Fireworks and PTSD

Today is the beginning of a long 4th of July weekend! The holiday lands on a Tuesday this year, so for many, the holiday will begin on Friday and continue for four days.

I understand the fun and enjoyment some people may have from setting off fireworks. Although there are many legal fireworks here, there is a never-ending supply of both legal and illegal varieties lying in wait for the excited revelers to buy just across state-lines. There you can purchase the big ones, the percussion of which shakes the houses in the neighborhood. For those who are buying them and bringing them back to their quiet neighborhood streets, it’s a dream come true.

Unfortunately for some of our combat veterans, it can also be a nightmare come true. For those vets with post-traumatic stress disorder, that string of firecrackers sounds like automatic weapons fire, and the big explosions sound like the IEDs that threatened so many of their lives.

Flashbacks are a horrible reliving of past traumatic events. When you are setting off these illegal fireworks, chances are there is someone hearing them who are struggling with their combat-related trauma.  If you are unable to resist the urge to set-off those huge explosions, then please consider driving out somewhere that is less populated.

For many dogs, the sounds reverberating off the other houses can often make them disoriented.  Their stress level becomes unbearable with some of our animals running away or getting lost. There are numerous stories right now from shelters talking about how many dogs come to them during the 4th of July weekend, who aren’t tagged and are traumatized by the noise of the fireworks.

Try talking to your neighbors who are setting off the big ones, or write them a letter. Many people don’t know that they are harming some of our vets, scaring our little children, or making our animals shake with fear.

People who suffer from PTSD, (whether it is combat-induced or other trauma related) will try to do what they can to take care of themselves over the weekend. I’m trekking off the boundary waters canoe area for four days with my dog who is also deeply affected by firecrackers exploding.  In many neighborhoods where I live, the 4th of July has gone from, the ooh and ahh of fireworks displays at the local parks, too many houses on almost every street having their own sunup to sundown fireworks/firecrackers celebrations.

Please be courteous when setting off your fireworks and firecrackers at your home next weekend. Be thoughtful not only of our veterans but also the small children, elderly, pets, and others who may suffer from illness and startle easily.

Thank you for reading my memoir, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph

37 thoughts on “Fireworks and PTSD

  1. Jeannette_ptsd.bipolar

    I was just read your last post PTSD. I could relate in so many ways with you. My heart goes out to you. I’ve felt many of those symptoms. It can be terrifying. I have to say out of all my illness PTSD is one of my more challenging to manage. I hope you only the best. You are inspirational writer and person.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I 100% relate to bring startled/frightened by fireworks. I have been suffering from PTSD for 6 months now (indirectly) and yeah everytime I her them I think their gunshots (I witnessed a shooting). And once I do hear it it often brings back images of the event.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for post as an Iraqi war veteran fireworks are no longer enjoyable but brings back unwanted memories. Ive been talking with some of my veterans friends and none of us are looking forward to the fireworks on the 4th. I do miss enjoying a good firework show with my family.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Happy that it was raining/thundering and peaceful tonite. Didn’t have to hear the fireworks…and for four nights this year it’s too much. I remember you went away last yr too. Is that right? Enjoy and be safe with your dog.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I know there are some special vests (thunder vests?) you can get for dogs who have a hard time with storms, fireworks, etc. I dont know if they work. They are so relentless here for so many days in a row that our poor dog gets so stressed. But, maybe your dog will be just fine! Have a great weekend. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  6. We’re lucky that we don’t have a 4th of July over here. We do have a fireworks night in November though… I used to love fireworks as a kid but now we own a dog so I get the sinking feeling that this year’s guy Fawkes will be a lot less fun…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. bethanyk

    🙂 I ran into a DEER today. It was the closest I have ever been other than the time I put an injured on in my car. But this one was well and free. I will post about it later. I’m glad you love my critter whisperer posts. That is so funny!!!!
    When our dogs were alive we would turn all the fans on in the house. And the bathroom exhaust fans, box fans, oven fan. Anythign that made noise. The dogs still barked most of the night. Finally the vet gave one a medication to calm her. She would start foaming at the mouth she got so distressed. And she is a dog. I just can’t imagine a human’s experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh Annie, how stressful. We just closed the windows and turned on the air conditioner to try and settle our dog. It will be good to get her camping. Im the same way with the random blasts and they do sound like gun shots. Im sending lots of support. I just had a thought of all of us who are triggered by the fireworks/fire crackers holding virtual hands reminding each other that we are safe. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I am literally listening to fireworks be lit off by neighbors right now. They make me jump and wonder if they’re gun shots mostly because of the neighborhood I live in, and the fact there were two, random, drive-by shootings last night. Then there’s our dog who doesn’t know where to go or what to do with himself. The ones that are JUST super loud bother me the most! Very relatable, poignant post. Have fun canoeing and camping! Enjoy the peaceful sounds of nature🎶🏞️~Anne

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Thank you Bethany. Wow, isn’t that sad to hear about your neighbor who still experiences triggers from WWII. Thats really sad to think about how terrified she must have felt. You are a wonderful neighbor with tremendous empathy. Hopefully between the fans and ear plugs there is some relief. We just now closed the windows and put on the air conditioner to try and mask the noise so the dog can settle a bit. It will be good to get her camping on Sunday. Have a good weekend my friend. Hopefully you will commune with some critters. I love the pics and/or posts from my critter-whisperer. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  11. bethanyk

    Our neighborhood has a HUGE fireworks display. It used to drive our dogs mad. We would have to let them in the backyard so they could run back and forth across the yard and exhaust themselves to sleep. The fireworks go off all night. The main house that has them, now has a vietnam vet and double amputee living right across the road. I wonder if it will affect him. He is very kind. I ponder do they put in ear plugs and turn on box fans for noise. We do that and we can still hear them shake the house.
    I have one neighbor that is quite elderly and remembers bombs from the Nazis. The told me that the other day when there was a search and rescue and there were helicopters all over our neighborhood that she found herself under the dining table.
    You have written a very empathetic and compassionate blog and I hope that others will be kind to those who are suffering from PTSD.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank You! And thank You for sharing. That startle response is really frustrating to live with, and you’re right, just when we think we have a handle on it, it rears its head. Take good care! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  13. The reaction to loud noises never goes away. I jumped out of my skin with a terrified, high-pitched sound when my niece banged loudly on the front door earlier. Just when I think I’m reacting better to such things, something happens to prove the opposite! I’m very glad you’re getting away for the weekend, Alexis.

    Liked by 2 people

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