As we come into the July Fourth weekend, we want to wish you all a happy and healthy Independence Day celebration. We also want to make sure we’re acknowledging our first responders, especially our veterans, during this time.
Here in the US, we love our country and our freedom. Since 1776, we have enjoyed and celebrated these things in many ways. This is all thanks to the sacrifices of many before us and some still with us. We will forever be grateful for those who put their lives on the line for the sake of this country. As such, we at First Responder Coaching want to keep our first responders in mind during this upcoming weekend of festivities.
PTSD and Fireworks
We love our fireworks on the fourth, their popping colors and vibrant designs, but not everyone does. Those with PTSD may have a particularly difficult time with fireworks. As yesterday was PTSD Awareness Day (and June is PTSD Awareness Month), this is a good time to remind everyone of the concern those with PTSD might have with fireworks.
“In terms of fireworks, individuals with PTSD, as well as any combat veteran regardless of their PTSD status, are more likely to be triggered or respond to this kind of stimuli. So we have a loud, unexpected noise, often under the cover of darkness. If we think about what a combat scenario looks like, you’re expecting incoming fire and explosions that you have to be on guard for, that are often happening at night. And fireworks serve as a very significant reminder of these experiences, PTSD or no. So this really does impact people. It really disrupts sleep. It increases stress. I would say it is a pretty significant stressor for people.”Chris Mallard, PennMedicine News (July 2020)
How We Can Help Others
If you plan on attending fireworks with friends or family, enjoy! July Fourth is still a time of celebration! Just be mindful of those around you and be safe, which is advice that goes for any occasion. It would also be best to avoid setting off your own fireworks show. Unplanned, unexpected, unannounced bangs could be triggering to those with PTSD.
If you still plan on doing some fireworks of your own, be courteous. (Those who live in remote areas or near a lake are more likely to do this, depending on the state you live in.) If you know your neighbors are veterans or suffer from PTSD, kindly let them know ahead of time. Keep your celebration together timewise. Try to keep the shooting in a tight timeframe so others will be sure you’re done.
If You Suffer From PTSD
Michelle Pugle has some great advice (reviewed by Dr. Allison Young) for how to tolerate fireworks. This includes personal reminders that you’re not in danger, deep breathing, and avoiding avoidance. This isn’t your first Fourth, so you may know what works best for you. The number one bit we offer here is to communicate with those around you. Don’t suffer in silence.
We at FRC wish you all a happy, safe, and healthy Independence Day!