It’s a time-honored American tradition to shoot off fireworks in your own backyard. Some Americans even take to making their own potentially hazardous fireworks.
But when a teenager from Texas lit a similar makeshift explosive just two days before the Fourth of July, things went terribly wrong.
As KHOU News reports, 15-year-old Rowdy Radford’s homemade “sparkler bomb,” comprised of 180 sparklers wrapped in electrical tape, exploded in his face just after lighting it in his aunt’s backyard.
Here’s a video of what Radford’s explosive might have looked liked:
Radford was taken to intensive care at a nearby hospital, where doctors had to amputate his left leg from the knee down.
He also suffered injuries to his hands, face, and chest. After shards of metal flew into his eyes, doctors say he might be blinded from the incident. But it’s unclear whether he’ll recover, since doctors have him in a medically induced coma.
His friend was also injured during the explosion, but he fortunately had much “less serious” injuries than Radford.
The teen is counted among the roughly 7,000 people who are injured between June 20th and July 20th each year, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
What’s more, 1,400 emergency department-treated injuries during that time are associated with sparklers alone.
Radford’s aunt, Samantha Hansen, hopes other kids and parents learn from the tragedy that occurred at her home:
“If you knew Rowdy and how wonderful a child he was, you wouldn’t want nobody to go through this. Protect your children. Anything can happen.”
His mom, Wendy Smith, says the family lights fireworks every year but she didn’t know this year’s concoction would be as big as it ended up being. Neighbors as far as four miles away could hear the blast, which blew a four-foot hole in the ground.
A GoFundMe account has since been set up to assist with the teen’s medical expenses. The fundraising page, which raised about $4,000 in one day, further explains just how bad Radford’s condition is:
“Both of his arms had injuring including pins and screws needed to hold his wrists and elbows together. Several of his fingers were blown off, both hands severally burned along with his face.”
The CPSC reports a breakdown of the body parts most often injured by fireworks:
- Hands and fingers (36 percent of injuries)
- Head, face, and ears (19 percent of injuries)
- Eyes (19 percent of injuries)
- Legs (10 percent of injuries)
- Arms (5 percent of injuries)
The National Council on Fireworks Safety offers the following tips on how to safely set off fireworks at home:
- Use fireworks outdoors only.
- Use fireworks only as intended. Don’t try to alter them or combine them. Never relight a “dud” firework.
- After shooting off a firework, wait 20 minutes, and then soak it in a bucket of water to prevent reignition.
- Use common sense. Spectators should keep a safe distance from the shooter, and the shooter should always wear safety glasses.
- Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Have a “designated shooter.”
- Only people over the age of 12 should be allowed to handle sparklers of any type.
- Do not use homemade fireworks or illegal explosives; they can kill you.
- Report illegal explosives to your fire or police department.
The teenager’s mom explains that no matter how cool fireworks might seem, they’re “not worth” nearly losing your child over:
“It’s really hard to see your baby go through all this. I just want the parents to know don’t let your kids play with fireworks, it’s not worth it. It really ain’t. It hurts because I want to see my kid talk to me and he’s not because he can’t. It’s really rough.”
A family friend says Radford will be entering his freshman year of high school this fall and had previously said he wanted to be a mechanic.
Source: independent journal
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