Patriotic summer activities (and free Fourth Of July Printable)

The Fourth of July is one of the best holidays. We can celebrate our wonderful county, enjoy the summer time and spend time with our families!

I’m a big fan of cook outs and fireworks- they are so fun! Some of my fondest memories are spending time together around the fourth watching the fireworks and eating too much food!

So when it comes time to traditions to do with my own kids, there are so many options available!

For starters, you can grab this free fourth of July printable! Simply click the image, save it and print it out!

Next you can check out these other fun fourth of july activites !

Fun Patriotic Activities to do with your family

Shaving Cream Fireworks
Photo Credit: www.icanteachmychild.com

Shaving Cream Fireworks

Messy fun with only a few household activities, this is a great way to create patriotic art with basic supplies.

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4th of July Mason Jar Candles
Photo Credit: www.thisgrandmaisfun.com

4th of July Mason Jar Candles

Fun and easy patriotic craft that the whole family can get involved with!

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American Cannons - 4th of July Outdoor Game
Photo Credit: 4hatsandfrugal.com

American Cannons - 4th of July Outdoor Game

Get outside with this inventive and fun game, perfect for summer and patriotic holidays.

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Patriotic Pinwheels Craft for Kids
Photo Credit: myhomebasedlife.com

Patriotic Pinwheels Craft for Kids

These adorable pinwheels take less than 15 minutes, and (BONUS) teach you the directions so you can make different types of pinwheels. Start with the fourth of july, and then make them for other spring and summer holidays.

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Star Spangled Slime
Photo Credit: www.icanteachmychild.com

Star Spangled Slime

Slime is always a fun activity for adults and kids alike! Make some star spangled slime for your next patriotic celebration.

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Sparkle Bottles
Photo Credit: jamonkey.com

Sparkle Bottles

Everyone needs some sparkle in their life! If you are looking for a NON-messy craft, this is it! Have fun with these sensory bottles.

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Glow in the Dark Sensory Bottles
Photo Credit: www.kcedventures.com

Glow in the Dark Sensory Bottles

Discover this fun sensory bottle, perfect for an evening filled with fireworks!

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Patriotic Party Slime
Photo Credit: thefarmgirlgabs.com

Patriotic Party Slime

Patriotic Suncatcher Kids Craft for Fourth of July & Memorial Day -
Photo Credit: alittlepinchofperfect.com

Patriotic Suncatcher Kids Craft for Fourth of July & Memorial Day -

A cute activity perfect for all ages. This suncatcher sparkles in the afternoon sun on your window- perfect for celebrating America!

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Red, White & Blue Jello Cups
Photo Credit: www.kouponkaren.com

Red, White & Blue Jello Cups

Have your jello and eat it too! This is the perfect food craft to get kids involved for the holidays.

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Fireworks Marble Painting Craft Easy and Fun Activity for Kids
Photo Credit: kidfriendlythingstodo.com

Fireworks Marble Painting Craft Easy and Fun Activity for Kids

Remember marbles? Yep, they are still just as fun! Break out the set and see who can make a better firework art piece- the kids? or the adults?

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The Best Fire Hose Gifts and Do-It-Yourself Crafts

Post Preview: Fire hose has a shelf life. Once it’s reached it’s useful end on the Firefighting side, it gets turned into unique and memorable items, which are perfect gifts for Firefighters!

Not only is Fire Hose amazing for it’s life saving water power, but it also turns into some hot up-cycled items, many of which are perfect gifts for Firefighters.

And that’s not even the best part!

When you make crafts or purchase used fire hose gifts, you are recycling the hose and keeping it out of the landfill!

Obviously, being recycled wasn’t what fire hose was intended for- so finding specific colors is dependent on what gets retired at the time.

>>>>20 secrets the perfect Firefighter doesn’t want you to know<<<<

The items that can be created are truly endless, from belts and wallets to bags and notebooks. Hammocks, chairs and wall art also top the list of creative firehose recyclables.

The creativity doesn’t stop there though. Decommissioned Fire Hose has been in the media lately because of its versatility and strength in keeping doors closed, should an incident occur in a school. And animal habitats have been known to use decommisioned fire hose for play toys and bedding.

Basically, Fire hose is useful from the beginning to the end of it’s life. The real question now is, do you want to DIY your fire hose master piece or purchase an up-cycled firehose piece from a talented artist?

Table of Contents

What’s all the hoopla with recycled fire hose?

Firefighters are a pretty handy bunch. They can also be pretty resourceful too- give them some decommissioned fire hose and you might be surprised what they will make.

I’m thinking that one of them decided to cut up some hose and make something back in the day. Of course, this would be hard to track down- I’m sure it was before the advent of the internet when some hose lover made a bench or some wall art with some old firehose. 

Fire hose is very unique though, so thats why it makes such a fun project. It’s durable, tough and comes in a variety of colors. It also makes an excellent Firefighter gift idea, especially because Firefighters love to have memorabilia.

It’s also super flexible- just imagine all the water a used hose has had to deal with. Those funny videos of firefighters losing control of their fire hose aren’t just for show- they really happen!

Personally, I think it’s a great use of resources that have failed testing or reached their limit. Much better than a landfill or them going to a third world country where they might fail in action.

This post may contain affiliate links at no extra cost to you, please read my affiliate disclosure for more information.

First, Where do you get used Fire Hose?

This is the million dollar question.

Pro tip- Don’t call 911 asking for fire hose…

The first logical answer is calling up your local fire department (non emergency number) and the surrounding stations within a reasonable drive. Ask them if they have any available and also offer to contribute a donation to the department. Chances are, they have some lying around.

Another great option is to look online! Amazon has some new hose, Ebay and Craigslist have used fire hose options, and there are other producers that sell wholesale and retail to the public. You should be able to find some fire hose for sale online.

It may take some hunting, but you can find some recycled fire hose for your DIY projects!

DIY SECTION 

Of course, if you are pretty handy, you could do a lot of these projects yourself. I’m a crafty and avid sewer (sewist? Whats the word when you make stuff with a sewing machine?) but I have yet to attempt playing with fire hose. 

Thankfully, there are some tutorials on how to cut and sew this stuff up! You can also use leather working material to create your design, which would require more of a hand sewn approach- looking at the videos online, it looks like it might be easier to do it hand sewn.

If I was starting out with a new fire hose project, I would probably go with a wall design, or a can holder. Those look like they would be the easiest to make!

Don’t forget about the new hose on amazon, so if you are sentimental about a roll of inch and three quarter line, you can experiment on the new roll from Amazon first. It’s always a good idea to have scrap material for the prototype.

Instructables has several project outlines for working with fire hose. They are look decently easy- working with fire hose has an element of common sense. Its tough like leather but still flexible- almost like a well loved rug.

There are some other really cool ideas that don’t involve sewing. Several options just require cutting and using something like a pin or staple to secure the hose. Others could be hanging hose, or weaving it. I have several really cool ideas saved on my Pinterest board, Fire Hose

Ideas for recycled fire hose with fire hose background

GIFT GUIDE 

Under 20 dollars

Can Coozies from BrotherhoodProducts on Etsy
Firefighter Coaster from American Fire Co

Fire Hose Coupling Pencil Holder from Axes and Hose Co

Fire Hose Wallets and Belts 

Wallets and Belts tend to be the most popular reclaimed fire hose item. If you wanted to purchase some there are several options! Many of these producers are also firefighters (double bonus!!). 

Some popular brands for wallets Recycled Firefighter and Gallo En Fuego. Etsy also has a large collection of independent makers making unique firehose wallets. Though if you want something guranteed, Recycled Firefighter has been making a name for himself in the US, particularly among the EDC crowd. I’ve never heard a bad review!

Belts seem to be easier (maybe?) to make since there are lots of options to choose from!

Ladder34 has some really cool collections to showcase their belt options, like the Hotshot collection and FDNY inspired belts. Personally I like the Attack belts, but my husband would be all over the truckie ones.

Another maker is FireHoze, which has some pretty cool standard colored fire hose belts.

Rustic Firehose has some traditional up cycled firehose belts as well… and I’d be lying if I said they were ugly. The ‘rustic red’ is right up my alley!

Recycled Fire Hose Dogs toys

Nothing screams ‘Fire Pup’ like a Fire Hose chew toy. Seriously, Fire hose makes great dog chew toys because it’s practically indestructible. These are great for aggressive chewers, we’ve tried a few different options for our puppy and the fire hose beats all the other ones hands down!

These 5 Star rated Fire Hose Chew Toys are a must have for any pup!

And dont forget about ones with squeakers! My dog is OBSESSED with squeezers!

Amazon has a great selection of dog toys to choose from for your furry friend!

Don’t forget about Etsy! They have some super cute dog collars and accessories.

Our Fire Dog with our son, sitting on the fire truck.
Our Fire Pup!

Bags and Notebooks 

These are some of my favorite items that have been made from upcycled Fire Hose. I think some of the color combinations are really stunning.  While you can find turnout gear bags everywhere, fire hose bags tend to be a little more exclusive.

On Etsy, this is listed as a Bag Truck Tarpaulin and Fire Hose ensemble made with some great 5 star reviews!

One of the most popular brands for these fire hose bags and notebooks is Recycled Firefighter. It looks like he mastered the creative part of fire hose and went to work making some cool items!

Then there are two options in Europe. FeuerWear and Elvis & Kresse. Both of them have some amazing fire hose bags and accesories (and shipping looks pretty reasonable to the US!).

Decor 

Etsy is my go to when I want to look at creative uses for Fire hose, and it does not disappoint! This is especially true for Firefighter gifts for a Fire Wall or a Firefighter Themed Man Cave.

You will find so many creative things on Etsy made from firehose, truly one of a kind pieces.

This item is both hilarious, yet useful. Male and Female Bathroom signs!

Some of my favorite firehose creations are an American Flag Fire Hose from AmericanFireCo,

The ever popular Fire Hose Bench from AxesandHoseCo

I love these absolutely original wall hangings from BrotherhoodProducts.

Conclusion 

So if you have some vintage fire hose, you’ve got two options. Chop it up yourself, or get someone else to make you a custom fire hose piece. 

If you don’t have firehose, because not many of us do, definitely consider some of these unique items available for purchase (many of these stores are owned by firefighters- double win!)

Did I inspire a new firefighter themed collection? Or did I miss your favorite firehose creation? Let me know in the comments! 

fire hose gift guide


Firefighter Maternity and Newborn Pictures

We’ve all seen those pictures that make you swoon, the ones you can’t get enough of, the ones that make you smile and tear up. You know, the ones of babies and bunker gear!

Seriously, they are so cute! I stalked the web (mainly Pinterest, you can check out my board here!) for all the cute firefighter baby pictures. And there are several!

So when our third was born, we knew we wanted to grab a few more pictures of him rocking the fire life. We had tried with our first two, but we had a lot of other stuff going on when they were born (health problems and allergies- I’m looking at you!!!) so we knew we had to make it happen with the third.

Because babies and bunkers are two things you need more of in your life!

This article may contain affiliate links at no additional cost to you, read the disclosure here.

Maternity Pictures and Fire Trucks

We decided to match each other with the navy blue- mostly because I felt like a whale in the Florida heat. Navy Blue is a very forgiving color!

Newborn with the thin red line

We found much of what we got online.

The thin red line flag we purchased from amazon, and the cloth diaper cover was purchased from Etsy. We ended up getting it handmade (our first ever custom!). We’ve been cloth diapering since our first was super allergic- so this was a fun twist on the photo shoot!

Etsy also has the adorable baby bunker gear sets too!

Fire Station Visit with an Infant


We had so much fun doing these, and we are so sad that he is getting bigger already. Little ham is about 15lbs at 2 months.

It certainly has been a lot of fun adding our third to the mix, especially with shift days 😬 but we wouldnt change it for the world!

You can check out advice for the new mom and fire wife if you need some helpful ideas!

9 ways you know she’s married to a firefighter

How do you know he’s a firefighter? —- You can tell by his shirt! Likewise, you can tell a firewife by how she approaches some things.

Not only is she a rockstar when her husband isn’t home (somebodies gotta do it!) but she keeps it together so that he can do his job.

Together they are a team, one that helps hold our country together, as Firefighters are an essential part of keeping everyone safe (and their spouses at home do a lot of work too!)

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How do you know she’s a Firefighter Wife? Here’s the top 9 ways it shows!

1. She likes her husband in Navy Blue, not only is it a good color, but he also wears it all the time!

Am I right? Or am I right?

No seriously, there’s a lot of navy blue going on. At least he looks cute in it!

2. She isn’t afraid of spending nights alone

Her firefighter could be gone for who knows how long if he volunteers and all night on a schedule when he is career.

So she can’t be scared. She’s got to keep the home together while he’s away.

3. She rocks it as a solo parent (or solo dog mom!)

Shift days can be long! Throw in some volunteer hours, some trainings, and maybe a natural disaster (or two!) and it’s a wonder she gets anything done.

But she does, because she’s amazing.

>>>10 cute firefighter books for little kids<<<

4. She’s used to smelling smoke, not the cigarette kind, the house kind.

From her husband needing to shower after a call, to dirty turnouts, she knows what smoke smells like.

And she knows how to wash it out of the laundry. And she reminds her husband about his cancer risk (and secondary exposure) so everyone can stay clean and safe.

5. Her Firefighter carries her heart with him whenever he is on shift

Firewives have a few different ways of coping when their firefighter is gone. Some stay super busy so they don’t think about it, some are anxious the entire time, some listen to the scanner and follow the word of mouth forums to see what’s happening.

Hell, some of us Fire wives are just happy to watch what we want on Netflix and get the bed to ourselves.

However you deal, we know that we want our firefighter to stay safe.

6. Holidays, events, and days off are scheduled around shift days, Kelly days and trainings

Sure he has vacation time, but he also has to work. Sometimes Christmas is rescheduled, and some birthday’s are celebrated at the station. Special trips may be saved for times when theirs a swap available or a Kelley day.

Which is actually kinda cool, because some Firefighters are able to work more than one shift, or rotate shifts with their wife to care for the kids!

>>>40 Texts to send your Firefighter on Shift <<<

7. When the tones drop, she has to stop and let her husband go save lives

And sometimes the tones drop at really really important times. Like during the middle of an important conversation or when they are trying to spend some time together.

But her husband made a commitment, and she made a commitment to him!

8. She has to constantly reassure her friends and family that yes, she is still married.

Because he isn’t always there. Heck, sometimes he’s never around, especially if he’s doing a special school (I’m looking at you, medic school)

And let’s not forget that if her FF does anything ‘wrong’ that she shares with others, then they will start to think the marriage is on the brink of disaster.

Yes, still married. Yes, husband works alot. Yes, we will make it through this just like police officers and military and other wives who are married to hard working men!

>>>10 easy meals for shift night <<<

9. And that, not only did she marry a firefighter, but she married the love of her life. She ain’t nobodies badge bunny!

This fire life is tough stuff. It’s not something that we want to do for glory or some sort of social media thing.

Firefighter wives married their husbands because of love, not a job title, not a paycheck and not for a thin red line.

They love the man inside the bunkers, it’s just a bonus that he’s a firefighter.

Let’s Remember

Firefighters couldn’t do what they do without their spouses. We are their friends, their confidents, the keepers of the home when they are away.

Fire Wives have such an important role, never forget that. What you do behind the scenes is valuable!

Do you have anything you’d add to the list?

Recommended Posts for Fire Wives

15 ways you can spice up your First Responder Marriage Today

Tips for the New Mom and the Fire Wife

12 pieces of advice for the New Firefighter Wife

PTSD- The basics for First Responders

It seems that PTSD is a hot topic among First Responders these days. From talking about it, to training courses and mentions in the news. But it can be hard to talk about something that you dont fully understand.

So First Responders, their spouses and their family need to get a basic understand of what PTSD is, and what it is not. Sometimes you just want a straight answer!

*** Please note- this is not medical advice, nor to I pretend to know everything about PTSD, mental health, or the education that medical professionals have. This is my personal experience with my family and the mental health professionals we have talked to over the years. I strongly encourage you to get help if you or a loved one is suffering from PTSD, suicidal thoughts, or you need help. For immediate issues, call 911.

Why do you need to Know about PTSD?

That’s the most important question- because if you don’t find this information valuable, then it won’t matter to you!

So why do you need to know about PTSD?

PTSD is something that can effect you, your family or people that you encounter as a result of a traumatic event.

You need to know about PTSD because it can have an impact on your life- either indirectly or directly. Especially if you are a first responder or connected to one.

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But you need to know that not everyone will experience PTSD

While the numbers are pretty high, not everyone experiences PTSD. Sometimes everyday stressors can seem like a lot to handle, but they aren’t impacting how you function day to day.

Other times, PTSD can sneak up on you, and you suppress it because you have too much going on. If you experience symptoms that last longer than a month it’s time to talk to a professional .

What’s the definition of PTSD

The American Psychatric Association defines PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event.

PTSD can occur in all people, in people of any ethnicity, nationality or culture, and any age.

People with PTSD have intense, disturbing thoughts and feelings related to their experience that last long after the traumatic event has ended. View the article here.

Quick Stats according to this study

-33% of EMT’s and Paramedics will experience PTSD

-Females are more likely than males to have PTSD

-Moreover, this study found that PTSD was also the strongest predictor of health-related problems— stronger than depression, anxiety or job strain.

-PTSD among these first responders is associated with biomarkers that indicate neuroendocrine changes (e.g. cortisol, blood pressure) that may contribute to disability.

Many ways that PTSD can present itself

PTSD can look like a lot of different things, and it can also look different for Firefighters, Police Officers and Dispatchers.

They can have different thoughts associated with PTSD based on what they experienced and how often it’s happened.

So lets cover some general things that PTSD can present itself as for many of the first responders.

For one, PTSD can be a result of HEARING about a trauma.

 It can also occur as a result of repeated exposure to horrible details of trauma such as police officers exposed to details of child abuse cases. (See source here)

For Two, it can take some time to present itself. This is called Delayed Onset PTSD- it’s why many believe there shouldn’t be a reporting time limit.

For three, gender does play a role. About 10 of every 100 women (or 10%) develop PTSD sometime in their lives compared with about 4 of every 100 men (or 4%). Learn more about women, trauma and PTSD.

Fourth, it can be something that is manageable, or something that becomes a severe disability. This is entirely a case by case basis that will require diagnosis to determine.

PTSD is NOT this

PTSD is not something to be ashamed about. Those with PTSD have been through a lot. It’s literally in the title- they have experienced something traumatic.

But It is not something that is just going to go away on its own either.

Having PTSD is a very real thing for many people, it can stem from childhood trauma, or a very stressful event. You can even get it from secondary sources (think 9/11- we all have some awareness of that day, some worse than others).

Many people think that having PTSD is a weakness, a flaw, and something that they should keep locked up and hidden away.

But PTSD can cause this

Those that have PTSD are at a higher risk of depression.

And being depressed can cause higher risks of Suicide.

And a large number of first responders take their life every year.

See the connection here?

The problems aren’t always concrete- those with PTSD won’t always have depression, and those with depression won’t always have PTSD.

BUT we do know that we need to be aware of the connections so we can work on preventative care, especially so that we can save our First Responder Family. You can read more about the PTSD and Depression connection.

Get some Help

I would encourage you to talk to someone- you can speak to your employment assistance program at work.

You can find resources online, most importantly Like the national suicide prevention hotline.

You should also consider talking to someone about PTSD, please check out this FREE app for managing PTSD.

Hotline for FIRE/EMS (from the website- they are 24/7 and first responders OR their family can call about issues like alcohol or drug addiction, depression, suicide prevention, stress or anxiety, critical incidents, PTSD, stress caused by financial management issues or legal problems, relationship issues, work-related concerns, or psychological issues)

First Responder Crisis Support Line

I also have a resource with many other helpful sites for Firefighter Mental Health (As well as occupational health etc)

Let’s Recap

PTSD can happen to anyone- but it does tend to compound with First Responders, and personal and work life can blend together.

You want to get help for PTSD, it doesn’t have to rule your life or the lives of your loved ones.

What Firefighter Wives need to know about PTSD

What to do when your Firefighter doesn’t want to talk about it


What to do when your Firefighter doesn’t want to talk about it

We’ve all been there. It doesnt matter if your married, dating or just friends- there are times when your firefighter has had a rough time and they don’t want to talk about it.

It’s tough.

It’s tough for them living with those thoughts and memories, and it’s tough for you, as you watch them suffer (in silence or by acting out in other ways) and you don’t know how to help.

Or maybe you are doing your best to help and you want some reassurance that you are doing the right thing.

Whatever you are feeling, just know that you aren’t alone. As we become more aware of behavioral and mental health, we begin to understand just how complex the brain really is!

Let’s take a look at a few things you can do when your Firefighter doesn’t feel like talking.

*** Please note- this is not medical advice, nor to I pretend to know everything about PTSD, mental health, or the education that medical professionals have. This is my personal experience with my family and the mental health professionals we have talked to over the years. I strongly encourage you to get help if you or a loved one is suffering from PTSD, suicidal thoughts, or you need help. For immediate issues, call 911.

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First things first, understand that it’s normal to have bad calls

It’s just a part of the job. People from all walks of emergency responders and trauma intervention will experience bad calls.

Some days will just be bad days. If one call isn’t enough to shake the strongest of people, a series of bad calls (or a larger tragic event) will bring event the top dogs to their knees.

So when we hear that our Firefighter had a bad call, we have to remember that other people experience this as well.

Which is good and bad. There is strength in numbers, but there is also a stigma around ‘being weak’. Even if the whole crew experienced the same thing, there are those that are willing to talk about it and those that aren’t.

It can be a very touchy subject at work depending on the type of culture for that Fire Station. Talk to your firefighter (hopefully ahead of time) and ask them about their experience with talking to their team mates about hard calls.

This will give you some insight into how they might process the call (if everyone ignores it, your FF might ignore it too!) and it will also tell you if you are one of the only ones your firefighter can talk to, or if they have other people that might be able to lend an ear.

Be there, even if they can’t tell you what’s wrong

This is likely the most important thing to remember. You just need to be there for them, even when they can’t talk about it. This can be a gentle touch, or just someone to watch TV with.

Try to remember that they need time to work through what they have experienced and it can be difficult to come to terms with what they have seen (and everything else they may be questioning at that point!)

It’s not you, it’s them

What else can you do?

You can contact someone, especially if things get serious. You can take care of yourself and learn how to love and care for yourself (fill your cup, so you can help them fill theirs).

You can learn more about the basic of PTSD for Firefighter wives and you can also learn how to help Firefighters cope with trauma.

Most importantly, you can help to break the stigma around what Firefighters, Police Officers, Military and other first responders experience- both on and off the job.

They see some really heavy stuff, and the world takes them for granted.

Learn the Triggers

You have so many resources available for you to learn more about PTSD, depression and suicide in first responders. Please don’t hesitate to reach out. Here’s some great places to start.

Mental Health Resources for Firefighters

The Basics of PTSD for First Responders

What Firefighter Wives need to know about PTSD

What Else Can you Do?

If you feel that you or your FireFighter needs help, reach out. There are so many resources available, both at your station, in your community and online.

The Statitics are there- Firefighters are taking their lives at numbers that, quite frankly, are too damn high.

While you can’t force your Firefighter to talk about it, you can be there and do what you can (while still filling your cup) so that you can help them in their time of need. Sometimes that means they will retire early, sometimes it means they need to get counseling.

At the end of the day, we hope that they know how valuable they are to their family, and that they can get through this!

First Responder Discounts in Orlando

Orlando is the number one tourist destination in the USA, and rightfully so, it has some pretty fun things to do (cough cough *disney* *universal* *seaworld*)

We all know that first responders don’t make nearly enough for what they do… I mean, who becomes a firefighter for the pay? But if your like my husband, then you don’t like asking for a discount.

I totally understand that too! Taking the kids to Disney World is no walk in the park when it comes to your checking account though, so hopefully you find something to ease the financial burden. 

If you are going to Disney World, check out this beginners guide and money saving tips for Disney on a Budget.

Here’s a compilation of some first responder discounts for Orlando and the neighboring areas. I will update as I find more (and I live in Orlando so I will keep my eyes pealed). Please note: Discounts and benefits are subject to change without notice. I am not affiliated with any of these discount programs.

Hotels and Lodging

Disney Springs 

Through September 15, 2018- Special room rates starting from $82/night at the Disney Springs® Resort Area Hotels

Westgate resorts- 

get 10% off rooms

Sheraton Orlando Airport- 

20% off standard rate rooms and other discounts

Marriot Orlando World Center- 

From now through December 30, 2018, Florida first responders are invited to escape to the amenity-laden Orlando World Center Marriott® for just $99 per night

VRBO part of Homeaway-

Offers rentals with no deposit for first responders 

Orlando Theme Parks

Seaworld- normally they do a special every September where first responders either get in free or at a discount 

Disney- GovX (unless you are a Florida resident, then the tickets are pretty comparable)

Universal- GovX – save up to 95 dollars on two day tickets (sometimes with extra discounts)

Everything Else 

Crayola Experience

First Responders (and teachers) are free with ID

Orlando Science Center

10% discount for first responders while valid ID

LegoLand Orlando

up to 35 % off on govx.com (They should also have a discount for first responders in September) 

Kennedy space 

Govx adult tickers are 41 dollars and children are 31 dollars. 

Blue Man group

check govx.com for current discounts

Wonderworks

generally offers free admission in September 

Food 

Golden Corral- most locations offer 10% off

Firehouse Subs- free drinks and other discounts 

4 Rivers Smokehouse http://www.orlandosentinel.com/food-restaurants/os-et-4-rivers-smokehouse-july-4-story.html

Support the Family [Firefighter Wife Owned Business]

The cool thing about being in the Fire Life is the family aspect. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not as friendly as it used to be. But the more we branch out, make connections, and bring others into the fold, the more we can grow as a family!

The Fire department used to be HUGE on family. Family nights, family owned business, and taking care of each other. Then the drama set in, traditions changed (really, the country changed!) and things began to decline.

If we want to make things better, it starts with supporting ourselves (can’t love other if you don’t love yourself!) and supporting the other fire families around us.

That’s why it gives me great pleasure to highlight some awesome Firefighter Wife owned businesses! The cool thing about the internet and social media is that it brings together some people that you might not have met otherwise.

We also try to include them when we do gift guides (they tend to have the better gift ideas anyways!) so it’s a no brainer that one day they would get their own dedicated post.

Check out these awesome makers and seller and find some new and unique merchandise items.

If you are a firefighter wife that would like to be featured, connect with us!

You can find us on social media here or use the contact form to send us an email.

Facebook

Instagram

Firefighter Wife Owned Businesses

GiveEmTheAxe– Personalized Decorative Axes For Every Occassion

SimpleSunshineCrafts– Key fobs galore!

247Lifesaver– Tons of thin red line gear

AKMDesigns4U– Custom Hand painted gifts

SimplySweetbyB– Adorable baby and household Turnout gear themed items

FromHeartToFarmLLC– Firefighter Shirts and Gifts

Those with their own websites!

Rockypinedesigns.com rel=”nofollow noopener” – Wildland Clothing, gifts and decals.

Wildfirestrong.com rel=”nofollow noopener” – Wildland fire wife gear and subscription box

Mimas Bowtique– Firefighter Girl Suspenders

What Firefighter Wives need to know about PTSD

Let’s get a little personal.

Why should you listen to what I have to say? It’s not something I’m proud to admit, but I share freely that both my husband and I have suffered through PTSD from different events over the years.

Now, as a Firefighter Wife whose dealt with her own problems, seeing her Firefighter struggle with PTSD and triggers both at work and at home can be overwhelming.

But there is power in getting honest, communicating and sharing about the struggles of PTSD, anxiety, depression, and fear. Which is what I hope to do in this series of posts that cover various aspects of PTSD and mental health and how it effects our first responders.

>>>MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCE LIST<<<

*** Please note- this is not medical advice, nor to I pretend to know everything about PTSD, mental health, or the education that medical professionals have. This is my personal experience with my family and the mental health professionals we have talked to over the years. I strongly encourage you to get help if you or a loved one is suffering from PTSD, suicidal thoughts, or you need help. For immediate issues, call 911.

What you need to know

There is no one size fits all when it comes to PTSD. I think if it were easy enough to solve with a few simple steps then it wouldn’t be much of a problem at all.

The first thing everyone needs to know, is that anyone can be effected by a traumatic event. Even one they weren’t directly part of.

Yes, it’s true and the events of September 11, 2001 are an example of a situation where people had (and still have) PTSD from an event they might have been a thousand miles away from.

And PTSD can build in layers. One event can lead to another. One event can trigger another.

Unfortunately PTSD is a multifaceted pain in the side. It can present in several ways, and it can be bottled up and ignored for many years. So let’s cover some of the basics that Firefighter Wives need to know for their spouses (and for themselves as well).

PTSD can show up in different ways

This is probably not what you want to hear.

But dealing with PTSD isn’t cut and dry, in fact, many different symptoms can show up as a result of dealing with stress and anxiety after a traumatic event.

Generally, the person experiencing the symptoms will have several types and they will typically last longer than a month. Some examples would be avoidance of triggers, reoccurrence of the event, and frightening thoughts. You can learn more about the categories here.

PTSD is linked to Suicide Risk

This is the cold hard truth, and my least favorite subject, but one I can’t help but talk about in case it save’s someone life.

When you have PTSD (diagnosed or undiagnosed) you have a higher risk of suicide.

We could talk statistics all day long- but at the most basic level, when you are struggling with your mind, some people view ending their life as a solution.

The issue with suicide is it causes a lot more problems than PTSD. It isn’t a cure, because the person is dead, when they could have been treated for their problems.

If you or a loved one is struggling, please reach out! Save a life.

(and we talk about treatments and cures for PTSD below!)

Throw out the calendar- PTSD is unpredictable

Sorry again, I just keep giving you the honest (yet shitty) news.

For those that have ever dealt with any form of post traumatic stress or anxiety have shown, it doesn’t matter what time of day or year, symptoms can show up.

This means that you can be sitting in your living room, reading a book, and flashbacks can occur.

Or you could have gone to bed totally happy and then you wake up in a rage of anger and frustration.

Crazily enough, sometimes those with PTSD can experience the same event later on and NOT have a problem, but driving through the chickfila drive thru can trigger it a month later.

It WILL impact your marriage

This is one of those unfortunate side effects of falling in love with a first responder.

Sometimes the work follows them home, and not in a good way.

I’m talking about the things that are big and small.

Like nightmares that wake you up in the middle of the night.

and random outburst of anger that make no sense, came out of nowhere, and aren’t related to anything you are doing right then.

And emotional avoidance, not being able to (or not willing ) to talk about what’s bothering them- even if it’s not related to work.

And a change in intimacy. Either wanted more than you can give or not wanting it at all. Or being totally hot and cold.

So if you have experience some of these (and many others) they can be part of the residual side effects of your Firefighter struggling with their PTSD.

The good news is that you can see right through it and make it a priority on your end to help your firefighter “feel the love” from you, as long as things haven’t gone towards abuse.

40 texts you can send your Firefighter on shift

No, it does not make you “crazy”

There is this stigma that those that have PTSD are crazy. or loco. or mental. or whatever negative word you can imagine that describes someone that doesn’t have control of their mind and they are a “problem to society”.

Yes, stress and anxiety can change your Firefighter into someone new, someone different, someone that might scare you at times. But in most cases, they are still sane.

If they ‘jump off the mental health deep end’ then it’s something else, like PTSD that has morphed into a dangerous depression/suicide. Or someone that has bottle up their PTSD so long that it has caused them to have other mental and physical problems.

The only crazy thing is when firefighters and their spouses DON’T seek help, because there is help. See below.

Great News- it IS treatable, it is manageable and it is curable

The best news is saved for last. Despite PTSD and anxiety causing a lot of issues for someone and their family, it doesnt always have to be this way.

There is no one size fits all, because each person has gone through their own unique traumatic experience(S). We don’t know what they’ve seen or had to deal with (or how many times they’ve had to deal with it!).

So when I say curable, I want you to understand that’s the best case scenario, the worst case scenario is that your First Responder learns how to manage the PTSD.

Both of those are good things.

What’s not good, is unchecked PTSD, because as we’ve looked at, it can morph into other mental and physical health issues and it can drive someone to take their life.

Sometimes this might mean that a first responder retires early, but if it saves their life, then that’s what matters!

There are counseling options like various forms of psychotherapy, EFT, medications and natural options. For us personally, we’ve tried everything but medications, as the ones that were recommended had some side effects (like depression) that we felt might make the recover worse. That said, not all medications are bad, and you can talk to your health care provider about what options are good for you.

When should you seek help for your firefighter

As someone that loves a firefighter, you now know that PTSD is not one size fits all, and that it will impact you and your firefighter.

But when should you get involved?

Between you and your firefighter, you should get involved immediately. Be kind and loving and try to get through to them that they don’t have to be embarrassed or scared.

When should you get other people involved?

The cut and dry version of this is if you or your firefighters life is in danger- even if it’s just a weird comment about suicide or ‘why was I ever born’ type thing.

Other times you might want to get involved are when your Firefighter isn’t seeking help and it’s been a long enough time that it’s really impacting their health. Only you would know how long that time would be. The professionals recommend behavior that lasts longer than 30 days.

But if you feel like it’s a real problem, don’t wait 30 days to get help.

Things like reckless behavior, excessive drinking or drug abuse, a lack of sleep that causes personality change or poor decision making.

Basically, you need to get help ASAP if you question wether your firefighter can make good decisions while they are impaired from drinking or lack of sleep or emotions that are going haywire.

Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

And many firefighters consider PTSD a form of career suicide, so they may need some encouragement from you to seek help.

>>>MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES<<<

Final Thoughts

This is by no means exhaustive. This is just the basics. And I am not a mental health professional so if you need help, please seek it!

Calling 911 or the suicide hotline ( https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org ) for serious issues.

>>>MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES<<<

Recommended Articles for Firefighter Wives

PTSD- the basics for First Responders

Help and Advice for a Marriage in Crisis

12 pieces of advice for the new Firefighter Wife

Being a Firefighter Wife has so many benefits, namely that you come with your own Firefighter. But when you are a new fire wife, there are some things that you need to know.

These little tidbits go by many names.

Advice- Survival Skills- Recommendations- Guidance- Words to the Wise

Whatever you want to call it, it’s information that the newer Firewife needs to know, for her sanity and the sake of her new marriage! Or engagement, because let’s just be honest, marriages look different in the 21st century.

Advice- Survival Skills- Recommendations- Guidance- Words to the Wise for the New Firefighter Wife

Tell Murphy to shove it 

Do you know about Murphy? Murphy’s law is that things go wrong if you give them the chance.

Basically what happens is, your firefighter goes on shift, and then things go wrong. The dryer breaks, the keys get locked in the car and the dog gets out.

These are the days where you find out how strong you are as you try to manage everything that went wrong without your Firefighter- or maybe your Firefighter ended up having to come home because things got so bad (like that time a tree fell on my house while my husband was on shift and I was 37 weeks pregnant taking a nap- it’s a happy ending though!)

But you will not let Murphy win– tell Murphy to shove it and find a way to make the best of the shift day when everything goes wrong and you can’t depend on your firefighter.

Make sure you know who to call in case of emergency 

This may seem like a no brainer but, do you know who to call in case of an emergency when your Firefighter is on shift and they aren’t answering their phone?

Obviously, most of us can call the office. But what about if it’s after hours?

You should have another shift mates number, or the lieutenant, or someone else that can be an emergency contact if something goes wrong.

Especially if you don’t live in the district where your husband works. If you can’t quickly drive to his job, you need several points of contact.

We aren’t inviting things to go wrong, but let’s be prepared for the worst case scenario so you can come out smelling like a rose.

Understand the importance of sleep 

This is talked about, but really misunderstood in the fire service. Some people think that sleep has little to do with some of the issues firefighters face, and other people are hardcore about sleep.

What you need to know as a Firefighter wife is that sleep is important and will have a short and long term impact on your firefighter.

Short term it can cause irritability and some possible memory loss or confusion.

Long term it can lead to health issues and make any PTSD or depression worse.

Mix that with Firefighters love of coffee and energy stimulants and you have a recipe for disaster.

Our Husbands need sleep. Help him understand that and be patient with him when he hasn’t slept well in some time. He needs a break to recharge.

Flexibility 

Being a Fire Wife, you find out just how flexible you really are.

Like I thought I was flexible, I understand that overtime happens and I’m thankful for extra training (because it keeps him safe!)

But you don’t realize how flexible you actually have to be.

Like those years where his shift days fall on all the holidays. Or the times where he ends up working your birthday two years in a row.

Or (true story) when he has to go to a mandatory unpaid 5 day 12 hour training or he looses his position, while you are home with a 7 day old and two other kids. <<I might still be a little bitter about that one.

Learn to be flexible, but also learn to communicate your needs and work hard on compromise.

Yes, send them to training, but let them know that they are wanted at home and you want them to take off some time soon so that they can relax with you.

Flexibility = Balance. Don’t be upset over every shift day, but also don’t let the fire dept. dictate your entire life.

Politics-Smolitics

It doesnt matter how long your Firefighter has been on the job, at a career or volunteer department.

There is ALWAYS some politicking going on.

If I didn’t know better, I would say that some of these firefighters are worse gossipers than the ladies at the nail salon.

Do yourself a favor and stay away from it, or if your firefighter wants to share, get the cliff notes version.

There’s like a running joke in the fire department.

On one hand there’s so much tradition that they don’t like to change. On the other hand they talk about change but many times it never happens.

If it’s not on paper, I don’t even like to talk about it with my husband!

Find something to do on Shift Days

You need to be able to have something that is familiar to do on shift days, especially when you might be feeling lonely.

Some wives save their Netflix binge for shift days, others do special work outs or hang out with the friends.

I started blogging on shift days. Mostly because the nights were so lonely, I needed an outlet and something that was stimulating. You can check out my blogging resources if you’ve always wanted to start one and didnt know how!

Not getting caught up in the dates

I talk a lot about this in another post for the New Fire Wife at the Holidays, but I’ll say it some here.

No matter what your Firefighter’s schedule, you will not be able to have all the dates you want your Firefighter to have off.

That is the sad truth and just part of the job.

The frustrating part is when you think the date is “safe” and then your husband ends up having to work or get called in on that date.

That really sucks! I know my husband ended up loosing dates we thought were guaranteed before. We’ve changed birthdays and holidays- it’s all just part of the fire life.

Don’t be fearful of the job 

This is so much easier said than done, especially if you are empathetic.

It’s not easy, but you can’t let the fear of loosing your husband eat you alive.

Anxiety has this funny way of sneaking up on you when you least expect it, and if you aren’t careful, you can become on edge while your husband is on shift.

Sometimes this means a change in your mood, other times this can be struggling to eat or sleep.

Talk to your firefighter about the training that they do at the station. Follow other Fire Wives on social media and meet with the ones in person from your station.

Find a support person you can talk to when you get anxious when your Firefighter is at work.

And if you are part of those “word of mouth” groups on facebook, or have access to a Firefighter radio- stay away. You will tie yourself up in knots if you learn about a bad accident or a large Fire.

Talk about it, get a plan in place, and then work on keeping those fears (they are valid but they can’t control your life!) in check.

Make an effort to connect with others 

It’s sometimes easier said than done to find a tribe of people that can support you in this Fire Life.

But that doesnt mean that they aren’t out there! It may be another wife at your husband’s station, friends from church or people you know from online.

Notice how I didn’t say that you had to connect with people?

I said, make an effort. Sometimes in our lives we might have smaller circles that we run with, and that’s ok.

Just don’t give up on other people and become a scrooge. Make an effort to connect and one day you might be pleasantly surprised!

Figure out how to soloparent 

Soloparenting is no joke.

Even if you aren’t a human mom and instead an animal mom, it can still be hard when your Firefighter is away on shift and something happens.

I’ve got so many stories, from the time my son got a pellet ball stuck in his ear, to the time my dog smeared poop and blood all over the house- crazy stuff happens!

So get a gameplan for solo parenting.

For many moms, they find that they have to cut out certain things to maximize their time and reduce stress levels.

Maybe this means eating leftovers or only doing laundry when the husband is home. Some people try not to plan any activities for shift days or they enlist the help of friends or family.

Soloparenting can be challenging, so find ways to reduce stress and make sure you communicate it with your husband. I talk more about solo parenting as a New Mom while your Firefighter is on shift in this post.

Vacations, Vacations, Vacations

Did I say ‘vacations’ enough times?

Seriously though, make plans to enjoy each others time. From quick weekend getaways to a big yearly vacation.

You need it, your husband needs it. Time to get away and destress and spend time loving on one another (even if the kids tag along).

Stress is literally killing our first responders. Vacations aren’t the perfect solution, but they are part of the bigger picture for helping our Firefighters stay healthy!

Tell the Divorce Gossipers to get some duct tape

Here’s the thing.

Some people believe that they are right. And these people believe that Firefighter Divorce is at an all time high.

The reality of it, and the numbers, just don’t support that theory.

I wrote an entire post breaking down the research of divorce and how it relates to firefighters, but in a nut shell, being a Firefighter is not a reason for divorce. It is just a job after all, and marriages are supposed to be forever.

Conclusion

Is there way more advice for new Fire Wives? Yes!

Don’t hesitate to reach out. Your happiness is important. Find others that can help you navigate this beautiful yet sometimes ridiculous life of being married to a firefighter.

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