Fireworks and PTSD

We are heading into the weekend before the 4th of July.  The holiday lands on a Wednesday this year. The firework store billboards are now up, looming huge on the side of the road, and the fireworks-stands seem to pop up out of nowhere in the parking lot of strip malls. Business must be pretty good, because already many, many people are shooting off fireworks and firecrackers at all hours of the day and night.

I understand the fun and enjoyment some people may have from setting off fireworks. Although there are many legal fireworks for sale in the state where I live, there is a never-ending supply of both legal and illegal varieties lying in wait for the excited revelers to buy just across our state-line. There you can purchase the big ones, the percussion of which shakes the houses in the neighborhood.

We have become accustomed to many of our local county fairs shooting off a fireworks display at the end of the night before they close down for the day. But over the last few years, people are shooting them off at random times during the day, and the night. Sometimes at midnight or later, we will hear a loud percussive blast coming from somewhere in the neighborhood. Just one, loud blast that jolts you from sleep, and can cause great distress for animals, and young children.

Unfortunately for some of our combat veterans, the random fireworks/firecrackers going off can be extremely anxiety provoking and be triggering. For some vets with post-traumatic stress disorder, that string of firecrackers may sound like automatic weapons fire, and the big explosions may 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 and traumatized.  Their stress level becomes unbearable and some of our animals run away or get lost. There are numerous stories about the many dogs winding up in shelters, especially during the days right before and after the 4th of July.

If this is happening in your neighborhood, 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.

In many neighborhoods where I live, the 4th of July has gone from, the ooh and ahh of fireworks displays at the local parks, to a lot of houses on almost every street having their own sunup to sundown fireworks/firecrackers celebrations.

People who suffer from PTSD, (whether it is combat-induced or trauma-related) will try to do what they can to take care of themselves over the next week. I’m trekking off to the secluded boundary waters canoe area for four days, coming back after the 4th.

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

Thank you for reading my books: If I Could Tell You How It Feels, and Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph      

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54 thoughts on “Fireworks and PTSD

  1. Its really disturbing that it keeps getting worse every year. In fact they are still firing them off this weekend in our neighborhood. Im glad all is quiet by your home now. ❤️

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  2. letsgetreal2016

    I have neurological issues, and am disturbed by loud noises. When I was a a little girl, loud fireworks terrified me. I’m glad we are past the 4th of July. This year was particularly bad. There were some extremely loud professional fireworks going off in my neighborhood.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for writing on this important subject Alexis. I wholeheartedly agree with you.

    I also think government should take a proactive role. Governments hold and host firework celebrations, so why can’t governments also hold fireworks-free celebrations that are far away from where people set off fireworks? People definitely should take responsibility, but so should governments.

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  4. Absolutely the random ones…ugh, we just cant plan or talk to our nervous systems to prepare. Benadryl works for dogs too? That would so much better than the tranquilizers Leilani’s vet prescribed. 😃

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Well said Alexis. This is the time of year we get out the Benedryl. Ratchet and I don’t like the booms. 🙂 I’m ok with planned fireworks but the random bottle rockets and whizbangers 😂 ugh, I jump off the couch.

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  6. Thank You so much for sharing this. This is wonderful insight for people to understand. Not all service members have PTSD, but many, many who have served can (and do) still get triggered. I really appreciate that you commented. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank You Alyssa. I really appreciate you!! Guns going off? Yikes…that would be so scary! I suppose you get used to that sound, add in the extra fireworks..I would be a nervous wreck. Sending both of us calm hugs. 💞

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  8. Nemorino

    Good advice! I don’t have PTSD, but I am a Vietnam veteran and after all these years I still get a start when I hear some unexpected explosion, especially the small ones that sound like small arms fire.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Donald B Johnston

    In my neighborhood of Westchester CA (Los Angeles), we used to have fireworks at Westchester Park but it was discontinued years ago. Now there is a neighborhood block party close to me that does fireworks. And my nephew has done fireworks in the backyard. He has two pit bulls, Una and Kola. And Kola especially does not like it. Last year, as I recall, my nephew asked me to keep Kola in the main part of the house until the fireworks are completed. Kola would just keep panting.

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  10. This was truly amazing Alexis! You were able to write about something that so many relate to. I do not believe anyone thinks about how fireworks may affect others because so many are just selfish. I honestly do not ever go to the fireworks because I do not like being around large crowds. But when there are fireworks going off all night around my house, it does start to make me nervous because there are often guns going off as well. Gun scare the heck out of me!

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  11. Ugh…It gets more frustrating every year. I just really don’t get the fascination of lighting these off and not thinking about how it may affect their neighbors. My dog is terrified and we have to give her meds. The cats try to take care of her and this year I built her a little fort under my desk. She is staying home with my husband this year while Im camping. Hopefully she will cope. I have a feeling a lot of treats will be heading her way. Sending hugs to you and your kitty.

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  12. I’ve never thought about this before, but it makes so much sense. People need to be given notice of things like this so they can have the opportunity avoid their triggers and be spared pain. Thanks for writing about it, brings an important point to light.

    Liked by 1 person

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