Today happens to be Bonfire Day in the UK — a commemoration of Guy Fawkes day here. The story behind it is interesting (heck anyone who’s see V for Vendetta should know the basic story) and it’s a novel piece of history to commemorate.
That said, my little neighborhood in Wincobank (Sheffield) South Yorkshire has sounded like a bloody war zone for the last 4 to 5 hours. And while the shiny flashing light through the window is pretty and our neighbors clearly have spent a good chunk of cash on something that ends up being community entertainment, why can’t they just have a damn bonfire and be done with it? Or organize a few city fireworks displays and people who want to go, can contribute to the fireworks fund.
Now, I know I’m American and we have our Independence Day — but in most of the US fireworks are heavily regulated and in many states anything that makes big bangs and goes up in the air is illegal (we have enough problems with out of control forest fires in the half of the country that is high and dry… we don’t need more hot sparks to contribute to them). So, for the most part we rely on town displays or have cute (i.e., pathetic) little home displays of sparklers.
I don’t just say this because after the 3rd hour the artillery shelling gets a bit annoying, but because there are two populations that are actually negatively affected by this. I’ll begin with the ones who are the most helpless — the dogs. Not surprisingly dogs find them mc-scarry and pretty much the only advise is to make sure they don’t hurt themselves or run away… and if they do run away make sure they’re microchipped so if they don’t get hit by a car, you can get them back. I’m not trying to be macabre but Dani — my normally happy-g0-skippy beast has been going bat shit crazy for the last 4’ish hours. Xander, my tough guy, is sitting on my feet just to make sure that I’m not scared by them ;).
However, our furry friends aren’t the only ones affected — our veterans are likely to be as well. And after a decade of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq both the UK and US have plenty of veterans likely suffering from PTSD. In the UK, while the percentage of veterans suffering from PTSD is a debatable question, the numbers seem to be rising. In the US, the numbers seems to suggest between 25 and 30% of those returning from war are affected by PTSD, a number that’s consistent no matter what conflict/war they fought in.
Not surprisingly, not only do fireworks and dogs not mix, but fireworks and PTSD veterans don’t mix. For the veterans, is it any wonder? I’m surprised the numbers aren’t higher for soldiers and residents in war zones… the now 5 hours of ‘shelling’ is about to do me in. For people who have actually been in war zones, 360 degrees of shelling sounds from fireworks is likely to produce a reaction, even if they don’t suffer from PTSD.
I enjoy fireworks — they’re pretty and shiny. I don’t suffer from PTSD and while the 5 hours of the craziness is annoying, I’m not going to lose any sleep over it, but I think we should probably think of our furry friends and our veterans. Portland State University has a number of recommendations for consideration of both veterans and pets … bottom line use common sense and be considerate!