JACKSON, Miss. – Loud bangs and sparking lights in the sky can be exciting but can quickly turn deadly if they’re in the wrong hands.
We interviewed a teenager who horrifically injured his hand in a firework explosion and spoke to a doctor who tells us how you can protect yourself during the Independence Day holiday.
Conner Roney is a senior at South Jones High School. He was badly injured when a firework exploded, damaging his hand, “I felt warm liquid on my face and got up and looked and just saw my hand in pieces.”
Conner doesn’t remember all the details of Christmas night 2015, but he remembers setting off fireworks and one of them falling after it was lit. Conner says his initial reaction was just to get away,
“So I turned my body just to kind of scoop it and it hit the ground and went off early and exploded and threw me back.”
After going to a local hospital, Conner was brought to the JMS Burn and Reconstruction Center at Merit Health Central in Jackson. He stayed there for over a week and has gone through 5 surgeries.
“People hear of it happening,” says Conner, “but you never expect something like that to happen to you.”
The South Jones High School Senior lost 4 fingers on his right hand, but it hasn’t stopped him from bases for his baseball team and he plays soccer.
“Actually, I have a prosthetic,” Conner tells WJTV, “but I hardly ever wear it because I’m so used to living my life now, adapting for a year and a half, it’s hard to even do anything else.”
“I complain about hang nails and ill-fitting shoes and I see people with devastating injuries that put their lives back together. This individual is certainly one of them,” Dr. Bill Lineaweaver is the Medical Director at JMS where Conner was treated. “I have the deepest admiration for my patients and I’m continually astonished at how well people can rally.”
Over the last 8 years, Dr. Lineaweaver says he’s seen 4-6 hand injuries every summer related to fireworks. He says firework injuries are most often devastating, “Blindness, facial disfiguration, and mangling of the hands.”
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported 11 firework related deaths in 2015 and nearly 1,200 injuries. Dr. Lineaweaver says to leave the pyrotechnics to professionals, “Don’t buy them and then go to some place where someone is trained to set off fireworks, will set off the show.”
Conner says he no longer shoots fireworks and many of his friends have stopped as well, “I’m not glad it happened to me but I’m kind of glad it opened people’s eyes that accidents are real.”
From the National Council on Fireworks Safety:
Recommended Safety Tips
- Obey all local laws regarding the use of fireworks.
- Know your fireworks; read the cautionary labels and performance descriptions before igniting.
- A responsible adult SHOULD supervise all firework activities. Never give fireworks to children.
- Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Save your alcohol for after the show.
- Wear safety glasses when shooting fireworks.
- Light one firework at a time and then quickly move away.
- Use fireworks OUTDOORS in a clear area; away from buildings and vehicles.
- Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
- Always have a bucket of water and charged water hose nearby.
- Never carry fireworks in your POCKET or shoot them into METAL or GLASS containers.
- Do not experiment with homemade fireworks.
- Dispose of spent fireworks by wetting them down and place in a metal trash can away from any building or combustible materials until the next day.
- FAA regulations PROHIBIT the possession and transportation of fireworks in your checked baggage or carry-on luggage.
- Report illegal explosives, like M-80s and quarter sticks, to the fire or police department.
And let’s not forget the safety of our pets!
- Don’t bring your pets to a fireworks display, even a small one.
- If fireworks are being used near your home, put your pet in a safe, interior room to avoid exposure to the sound.
- Make sure your pet has an identification tag, in case it runs off during a fireworks display.
- Never shoot fireworks of any kind (consumer fireworks, sparklers, fountains, etc.) near pets.