HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Fireworks can be a great way to celebrate July 4th, but the sound of those showstoppers can be a bad thing for military veterans and pets. If users are not careful those fireworks could trigger fear and trauma.

Nonprofit leaders and medical experts say the sound of those fireworks can have a negative impact on veterans and pets. People are asked to think about others before they decide to set one off.

“Get to know your neighbors in the community, that’s really important,” Sabina Mattern with K9s Unleashed said. Mattern works closely with supporting law enforcement, veterans, and canines.

She says many who have served have been through some pretty challenging things in battle, and the community should protect them during the Independence Day weekend.

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“You know they hear these fireworks being set off, it’s immediate trauma response, PTSD episodes, a lot of these guys have traumatic brain injuries, and it really sets them and puts them in a bad state of mind, and we don’t want to be doing that to our guys and our girls,” Mattern said.

“Really post-traumatic stress disorder is a syndrome of changes in one’s cognition perception outlook, also physically how they function too,” Dr. Joseph Motacki with the Lebanon Veterans Affairs Medical Center said.

Dr. Motacki says the sounds of the fireworks could trigger flashbacks, memories, even traumatic dreams.

“When they hear sounds that sound like sounds of warfare, gunfire, fireworks, etc., obviously, it sets off a cascade of reactions, and it’s hard for them to tell what’s safe and unsafe,” Dr. Motacki said.

The best thing to do is to stay prepared and keep others aware.

“Let your neighbors know, ‘We’re going to be setting up some fireworks, if you have a veteran in the family let them know we’re going to be doing it this day,’ and such, Mattern said. “Give a heads up so people can prepare for that.”

Also, a proper step is to make sure that your pets are well taken care of so they won’t get anxious during loud noises.

“And keep them safe, make sure your windows are shut, your doors are locked, that way unexpected accidents don’t happen during these next few days,” Mattern said.

If you are a veteran suffering from PTSD, some good advice doctors say for July 4th weekend is to find an activity that you can distract yourself with, talk to your behavioral health provider, and do not isolate yourself from others.

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