With Independence Day coming up I am reminded of how much I don’t like fireworks. I can recall two situations that led me to dread public firework displays. When I was sixteen I was a part of a youth program to prepare kids for the workforce. One of my jobs involved cleaning the local city park. It happens to be where they set off the fireworks for our annual celebration. One cold and wet July morning 15 years ago led to 8 hours of picking up cardboard casings on my hands and knees. The 2nd incident happened more recently. I was driving home from Athens during the evening on Independence Day. While I was traveling on the highway around 10:00 p.m. that night I looked to my left and noticed that the fireworks display had started. “How quaint,” I thought to myself. Moments later all of the cars in front of me starting braking erratically to catch a glimpse of the display. I nearly had several collisions because people thought it was ok to stop suddenly on the highway to watch the sky.
Just like so many other things in my life, the reasons I don’t like fireworks are superficial. However, for Veterans, not liking fireworks comes from a much deeper place; combat.
Newsflash: I am not the first person to write about Veterans struggling with fireworks on Independence Day. However, most of the information you will find via a Google search on this topic is not helpful. What I have compiled here is advice from Veterans I’ve spoken to over the past few years regarding this subject. Let’s get started:
- Don’t go. Now this may seem like one of the simplest ways to deal with fireworks, but sometimes the simplest answer is the best. The most consistent answer I have received from Veterans on this subject is avoiding the public displays. This does not mean you can’t enjoy the holiday though. I live in a rural area far from the public displays. We still have a cookout, enjoy swimming and so on, just without the use of fireworks.
- Go see a movie. Some of the Vets I have talked to have told me about this for avoiding firework displays. Most cities announce when their fireworks will be set off. Plan to see a film during this time. Usually the audio of the film will cancel out anything going on outside. Just try to avoid anything by Michael Bay because that man seems to love explosions almost as much as he loves himself.
- Hang out with man’s best friend. One of the best stories I have heard on this subject involved a combat Veteran and his dog. He explained to me that whenever people started letting fireworks off, he and his dog would head to his basement to avoid the noise. Many Veterans I have spoken to with PTSD find comfort in pet dogs, and in these situations a dog can be very helpful.
- White Noise. I have actually written an entire blog to how much I love my white noise app on my phone. If you have a smart phone, regardless of the operating system, there are many free versions available. I recommend the version offered by TM Soft. It’s great. I have used it for three years. You can choose from dozens of sounds and even add new ones for free. If you have a set of head phones this is a great way to cancel out the sound of fireworks in the distance. On a personal note, I like to pretend like I’m Colin Kapernick in the Beats by Dre commercial when I put my headphones on. Doing that may not help much, but I tend to do things a little different. On a side note. I personally use this strategy to avoid other unpleasant noises, like a nagging spouse, or whenever a Dallas Cowboy’s fan starts to speak.
- Talk to your neighbors. Everything we have discussed so far has involved planning ahead, but most Veterans have issues with fireworks going off suddenly. For instance if you live in a neighborhood that has a bunch of teenagers, they might set off firecrackers randomly. Or another family might be celebrating on Saturday instead of Friday. One thing Veterans can do is just inform their neighbors of the issue. Just ask them when they are planning to set off fireworks so that you can prepare ahead of time, or just not set them off near your house. In fact, if you have pets, this is probably a good idea regardless. This way you can prepare your animals too.
- Go camping for the weekend. Some Veterans have told me that they will take their families camping during the Fourth of July weekend. This is a great alternative to staying home anyway. You get to celebrate the holiday with loved ones and create great memories in the process.
Independence Day is a great holiday in which we get to celebrate our freedom and those who keep us free. This holiday is so much more than firework displays and barbecues. The team here at Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law appreciate those who serve this great country and want to help in any way possible. We encourage any Veteran who reads this blog to share their strategies for dealing with fireworks. Just leave a comment, and we will be sure to add it to the suggestions.
Happy Independence Day.
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