Preparing for fireworks this Bonfire Night

Fireworks are used to celebrate various dates in the calendar, such as New Year and the impending Bonfire Night on 5 November. But for veterans and those living with PTSD, this time of year can be distressing and even trigger flashbacks, or other symptoms of the condition.

For many, fireworks are a symbol of celebration, but for veterans, they can cause stress and lead to flashbacks of their time in combat.

As conversations around the safety of fireworks continue, support grows for those wishing to reduce access to fireworks, or those calling for a complete ban.

This year, Sainsbury’s are not selling fireworks in any of their 2,300 shops across the UK. The move has pleased many, but particularly those in the Armed Forces family.

Despite this, it’s a good idea to be prepared ahead of Bonfire Night, to ensure you have a calm and stress-free evening.


Though it can seem like the celebrations of others are out of your control, there are things you can do to try and make Bonfire Night a little easier for yourself.

Firstly, by looking up the times of local events and firework displays, this can help you take control, and plan your own movements on the night.

If you think your neighbours are going to be putting on their own displays, one of the best things you can do is be honest and approach them about your situation. Your neighbours will likely be sympathetic to your PTSD and will work to accommodate your needs.

Ask them when they’re planning on letting off their fireworks, so you can plan your schedule. If you don’t have the time, or don’t feel confident speaking to your neighbours, there are signs you can print off and display in your garden, to ask residents to be mindful of your situation.

You can also use the night as an opportunity to catch up with friends and family, who can support you throughout the evening.

Understanding what your triggers are can help you: whether it’s the sounds of fireworks, or the smell of a bonfire that triggers difficult memories. Once you understand this, you can work to combat it, for example playing music loudly, watching a film or TV show through headphones, or having essential oils to hand.

For more support ahead of Bonfire Night this year, you can contact Walking with the Wounded, or Combat Stress.

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