For survivors of the Parkland School Shooting, Wednesday’s fireworks celebrations for the Fourth of July could be a source of anxiety.
Lisa Goel's oldest daughter was in the building where the shooting happened on Feb. 14. She survived, but lost several classmates. Goel said the effects from that day are long-lasting. To avoid firework noises this Independence Day, the Coral Springs family may go to the movies.
“It is just less than five months ago, and the memories of it all are still so fresh,” Goel said. “My oldest daughter gets anxious at every loud noise…fireworks sound like gunshots.”
The Coral Springs Police Department is asking residents not to explode any personal fireworks, because the loud bangs and unexpected popping noises can trigger PTSD symptoms for the survivors of February’s mass shooting.
On social media posts, the police department said: “The violence they experienced is something many families in our community are still working through. Triggers – like loud bangs from fireworks – can bring back a flood of memories from an act of violence we all would like to forget. This Fourth of July, as you celebrate our Nation’s Independence, remember to take these families into consideration.”
The department is also warning that anyone caught with illegal fireworks - ones that explode or fly through the air - will have them confiscated and could be charged with a first degree misdemeanor charge at the second offense.
Instead, the City of Coral Springs is directing people who want to see fireworks to head to Mullins Park at 9 p.m.
The fireworks show has been pre-planned, and the crowd and surrounding neighborhoods will be notified when the noise is starting.
But even with the police notice, Goel says she still worries about her daughters’ reaction.
“This holiday will never be the same,” she said.
The Muñoz family, like Goel's, is also planning to avoid the fireworks and crowds by heading to the movies.
Roberto Muñoz's daughter, Leonor Muñoz, also survived the February shooting. Their family tradition in years past he said, has been to go watch fireworks by Deerfield Beach's pier. This year the family wanted to be proactive, and make more considerate plans for Leonor.
“In the afternoon we’re probably going to go out to the movies, just to stay away from night, noisy environments,” Roberto Muñoz said. “Even though it happened months ago, they’re not over it yet and neither are the teachers.”
Leonor feels, the popping sound of fireworks could trigger people’s PTSD symptoms.
“My favorite thing has always been to go see the fireworks, I’ve always loved that,” Leonor said. “I’m really mad, because fireworks are ruined for me now.”
Leonor hopes her neighbors in Parkland, and that residents in Coral Springs are extra considerate when they're deciding when and where to light fireworks.
“PTSD is a thing. We can’t control it," she said. "Whether we think it’s happening again or we just remember the horror of when it did happen...I just want to eat hot dogs and be normal and not think about it."