This week, as Bonfire Night celebrations take place, 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.
Professor Colin Preece, Wellbeing Manager for our Hidden Wounds team, says, “The vast majority of the veterans that we support for mental health issues tell us that they don’t like fireworks. It can be the bangs and the flashes, but also the smell of fireworks can be a massive trigger for them. These stimuli can remind veterans of bad moments they experienced in combat and make them relive traumatic events in their lives. It can be particularly problematic for those with PTSD.”
The Firework Heroes Code
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 groups. 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, “The planned public events aren’t so bad, and the new silent fireworks are a good idea. It’s the unexpected bangs of fireworks in people’s homes or in the street that take me right back to where my trauma began and triggers my PTSD. Hearing them makes me fearful and angry but I also have a physical reaction as I shake and my heart races. I have to take myself out of the situation and sit somewhere quietly, take deep breaths and compose myself to bring myself back to the ‘now’."
Many people look forward Bonfire Night and it is a big event in the calendar, but not everyone enjoys them, 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.
We understand that reaching out for support can be difficult. If you are a veteran or loved one and need support, we are here for you.