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Virginia researcher offers tips for helping people who experience post-traumatic stress disorder during fireworks season

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This story was reported and written by Radio IQ.

With the Fourth of July approaching, so is the season for fireworks. But fireworks can be triggering for people with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Whether it’s fireworks in your backyard amid grilling hotdogs, or a larger community fireworks show, chances are you’ll be close to these small explosives at some point.

“And obviously, you know, fireworks are just part of the Fourth of July,” said Tim Jarome, a professor at Virginia Tech who has researched PTSD. “It’s hard to say that we would ever get rid of them because it’s what we really imagine for the Fourth of July.”

He said for some people who’ve experienced trauma, especially in war, fireworks can bring on an episode.

“The sounds, the loud bangs, even the noise from the crowd can sometimes act as a trigger,” Jarome said.

He added having time to prepare can help someone with PTSD have a plan in place, and surround themselves with family members they trust.

Phil Grucci is the CEO of Fireworks by Grucci, which has a factory in Radford. They’re doing 65 firework displays over the country for the fourth of July. He agrees that fireworks can be an issue for people with PTSD, as well as for pets that can also become anxious by the noise. But he said most of the large firework shows they do are announced ahead of time in local media.

“We and also the customers that commission us to perform, do our due diligence to get the word out, for many reasons,” Grucci said.

If you plan on setting off fireworks in your backyard, Jarome suggests telling your neighbors ahead of time.

Firefighters are also urging care with fireworks because of the dry conditions Virginia has been experiencing.

Roxy Todd

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