It’s New Years Eve… Big Ben begins to chime… the countdown begins… and then… BANG… The sky fills with explosions of colour and noise.
Fireworks are a common symbol of celebration and can be impressive to watch. However, the flashing lights and loud noises can be a challenge for brain injury survivors to cope with, in addition to the crowds of people that come with organised displays.
We asked our social media followers whether the effects of their brain injury make firework displays hard to enjoy. Factors such as noise sensitivity and issues with light were highlighted, as well as bangs causing flashbacks and nervousness.
Loud noises make me jump and my heart beats faster until I can calm down.
This is a feeling shared by Jenny Romeo who said, “I struggle with any loud noises. Makes me relapse every time. I try and avoid.”
Anthony Potter said: “Fireworks and loud noises aren’t a problem for me. The problem comes when there are lots of different sounds at the same time, I think it’s called sensory overload. I get really agitated really quickly.”
Jenny Thornton still enjoys fireworks following her brain injury, however only from a distance, saying: “If they are let off when I'm not expecting them I go into panic mode, triggers my PTSD as I don't know where they're coming from or if they're going to end up hitting me.”
There may be ways to watch and enjoy fireworks whilst reducing the impact they have on your brain injury effects.
Michael Glenn said: “You can wear glasses to dim down the brightness effects if you want to try and enjoy a display. You can also wear headphones and listen to music to drown out the thunderous bangs some fireworks make. Or wear the less noticeable in-ear foam earplugs made specifically for noise reduction.”
Following her brain injury, Deborah Johnston struggles with loud noises and experiences photophobia. She also recommends sunglasses and earplugs:
I wear sunglasses from the RNIB and earplugs, but even then sometimes I can’t manage it.
Joe England prefers to avoid fireworks altogether, saying: “Sensory overload…
“I'll stay in bed with my headphones on, curtains firmly closed.”
The use of fireworks is regulated and irresponsible usage can be reported.
Fireworks should not be set off between 11pm and 7am, except for:
Private fireworks should only be set off on private land, or on land with the permission of the landowner.
Therefore, if a neighbour is causing you or your family distress by their improper use of fireworks you can report it to the police or the council.