Updated on

We are calling on the British public to practice ‘The Firework Heroes Code’. We want people to be more mindful of the negative impact that fireworks can have on veterans and others.

Theresa Mitchell, Head of Hidden Wounds, says, “Many veterans tell us that fireworks season can leave them feeling nervous and fearful, particularly as the season seems to grow in length and is not just focussed on 5 November. Sudden, loud noises, unpredictable flashes of light and the smell of bonfires and fireworks can trigger anxiety. Some people may feel on edge and overwhelmed, others may be reminded of moments in combat and can be troubled by past traumatic events. Even for those who choose to avoid the discomfort and remain at home, feelings of isolation can also be an issue."

What is The Firework Heroes Code?

This is a simple code we can all follow to reduce the negative impact fireworks may have on others.

  • Be mindful – think about the impact fireworks can have on people (and animals) nearby
  • Go to planned public fireworks displays - rather than set off fireworks at home
  • Give neighbours advance warning – it can be as simple as a message on a local WhatsApp or Facebook group. If you are having fireworks at home this gives those near you the chance to create a coping strategy
  • Go silent - consider using the new generation of ‘silent’ fireworks
  • Give support - if you think someone has been affected by fireworks, make them as relaxed and as comfortable as possible and encourage them to reach out for professional help.

Former Senior Aircraftsman in the RAF, Matt Neve, explains why this code is so important.

Many people look forward Bonfire Night and it is a big event in the calendar, but not everyone enjoys it, and that goes for pets too. ‘The Firework Heroes Code’ is a really simple way to ensure that you minimise the impact of your own event on others – so we can all feel comfortable at this time of year.

How to manage anxiety around Bonfire Night

If you need to talk, our Hidden Wounds mental health team is here for you. They offer a range of talking therapies over the phone and by video call, in one-to-one sessions. 

If you are feeling stressed, upset or triggered, certain coping strategies can also help.

These useful grounding techniques may help to calm the mind during times of stress:


If you are expecting a stressful experience, it’s best to make a simple plan to follow. Having this structure will also help you feel a little more in control.

  • If you are staying in, create a comfortable environment and do something you enjoy.
  • Try noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs.
  • If you are going out, create an ‘if and then plan’, this can include how and when you may leave a venue. Be sure to let friends and family know your plan, this will help them to support you if needed.

Use your senses to ground you

Certain situations may take you back to a time or place which you find triggering. By using your senses, you can ground yourself back to the here and now. Here are a few ideas you could try:

  • Sight – focus on what is around you, not what is in your mind.
  • Sound – listen to music and focus on the words.
  • Touch – touch something textured.
  • Smell – essential oils, like lavender, are good to calm and relax.
  • Taste – try eating something with a strong flavour, like peppermint, or lemon.

We understand that reaching out for support can be difficult. If you are a veteran or loved one and need support, please get in touch.