Kent Long shares story of 1st- to 3rd-degree burns that sent him to Grossman Burn Center at Research Medical Center following 2022 fireworks accident

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, between 2006 and 2021, injuries with fireworks climbed 25% in the U.S. In 2021, an estimated 11,500 people were injured in incidents involving fireworks and treated in ERs across the country. 

“Leave it to the professionals,” said Megan Garcia, MD, board-certified general surgeon and burn specialist at Grossman Burn Center at Research Medical Center. “They know what they are doing and how to do it safely. You may have watched someone else do it, but you, personally, don’t know all the pitfalls and safety techniques and you don’t know what you don’t know until it is too late.” 

Simple mistake caused 1st- and 3rd-degree burns

Unfortunately, a simple mistake during a backyard fireworks display on July 4, 2022,  led Kent Long, 48, of Overland Park, Kansas, needing to be rushed to the Grossman Burn Center with 1st- and 3rd-degree burns. 

“I am a chef in Kansas City and burn safety in the kitchen is common sense and part of the job,”

 said Long, who was seated in a folding chair near his 12-year-old son and members of his family that night, about 15-20 feet away from the fireworks when one shot up his shorts and burned the back of his thigh. 

Long spent about 10 days in inpatient care at Grossman Burn Center, undergoing multiple skin graft procedures to repair the damage to his thigh. 

“Dr. Garcia and the staff explained everything that was going to happen and were very comforting about my care,” he said. “A year later I have had no issues or concerns from the procedure that was done. 

“My incident was just an accident, as many are. People always ask was alcohol involved and the answer was no; just family, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces and grandparents enjoying the show that we and the neighbors were doing.” 

Leave fireworks displays to professionals

Dr. Garcia cautions to leave fireworks to the professionals. 

However, if you do plan to shoot off your own fireworks, she has advice to help keep you safe and out of the hospital on July 4th and during “fireworks season.” 

“Always use eye protection, even if you’re not the one doing the lighting,” she said. “If your clothing catches on fire, always stop, drop and roll. Keep a hose or water bucket nearby to extinguish all used fireworks with water and always use level ground for fireworks and keep them upright.” 

Thinking back to his own experience, Long said, “a narrow plant box would have been perfect to keep the firework upright. An accident is just that, an accident. But with a little forethought, it might have helped prevent mine.” 

Dr. Garcia also advises to never under any circumstance let children or family and friends under the influence of alcohol or substances light fireworks, including sparklers which can burn as hot as a blow torch.