If you're a combat veteran, chances are good you may already be feeling a little edgy.
It's that time of year when well-intended Independence Day fireworks — often spilling out for days before and after July 4 — can cause heightened anxiety, flashbacks and other triggers of painful wartime memories.
There's no shame in a perfectly normal reaction to the perfectly unnatural trauma of combat. But there are some things you can do about it, experts say:
Find a fireworks-free zone.
Some communities are starting to designate certain areas as fireworks-free.
Michigan, for example, has declared 12 state parks fireworks-free zones through the holiday weekend.
"While fireworks are a traditional Fourth of July festivity, some veterans and others prefer a calmer celebration with a little less excitement," said Michigan Parks and Recreation Division Chief Ron Olson in a statement announcing the plan. "We are pleased to honor our veterans and offer that opportunity in several of our beautiful state parks."
An online campaign using the hashtag #FireworksFree4th is helping spread the word.
Jack in, make a plan.
If you stay home, basements are good noise mufflers, while noise-canceling headphones or earbuds pumping your favorite playlist can be your best friend when things start to get loud.
If you choose to go out, make a plan with friends or family should you start feeling squirrely.
For example, think through where you want to sit, where the exits are, and how you'll get to a better place if anxiety starts to spike.
For many, it's not the big planned fireworks shows that cause problems — it's all those random blasters the neighbors set off at all hours.
"It's the unexpected fireworks that really hurt," says Shawn Gourley, co-director of the nonprofit "Military with PTSD." The group is distributing yard signs that read "Combat Veteran Lives Here; Please Be Courteous with Fireworks," having sent out more than 2,500 signs in recent weeks, with another 3,500 on a waiting list as the group raises money to print and ship them around the country.
Of course, there's nothing stopping you from creating your own version.
Talk with neighbors.
"The sign is really just one way to open up a conversation with neighbors," Gourley says.
If nothing else, veterans or their family members could just ask for a quick heads-up from neighbors before they start lighting fuses.
"If veterans know the loud noises are coming, it can make all the difference in the world," she says.