The Fourth of July is a time for family, fireworks, and fun. But for one Colorado family, last year’s holiday weekend will forever be remembered with a hint of sorrow.

Nine-year-old Hailey Sexson suffered from second and third-degree burns last Fourth of July after a faulty firework exploded near her.

Screenshot/9 News

Hailey spent nearly a year at Children’s Hospital Colorado Burn Center where she was treated for her pain. She recalled the night of the explosion to 9 News:

“I didn’t really feel it because I was in shock.”

Along with burns all up her arm and neck, Hailey’s mom Lindsey Martin said her daughter had bits of shrapnel in her eye as well. Lindsey said that although what happened was terrible, it could have been a lot worse.

Screenshot/9 News

Today, Hailey has recovered enormously well and has met with Brad Jackson, a psychologist with the Burn Center, on how to cope with the anxiety of the trauma.

In order to prevent terrible burns such as Hailey’s, Jackson warns parents to keep their children back from even sparklers, which are typically advertised as a family friendly activity. Jackson said:

“Sparklers can get over 1200 degrees – it’s really hot enough to melt glass and in some cases hot enough to melt metal.”

With that in mind, there are a number of safety precautions to take this holiday weekend. On average, approximately 250 people are hospitalized every day around the Fourth of July holiday due to firework-related injuries.

Jackson advises that children always wear shoes around fireworks and sparklers, as oftentimes they’ll get burns on their feet.

In addition:

  • Keep a bucket of water nearby when lighting fireworks in case of accidents
  • Only use fireworks outside and away from other people. Fireworks are not toys, do not point them at people, even as just a joke
  • Never relight a dud firework
  • Always wear safety glasses when lighting fireworks
  • Kids should never handle fireworks. Do not allow them to pick up pieces of fireworks after explosion— they may still be ignited and can go off at any time

If your child is struck by a firework, go see a doctor immediately. In the meantime, remove clothing from burned area and run cool water over the injury. In the instance of a child sustaining an eye injury, like Hailey, do not allow them to rub the infected area, as the friction may cause even more damage.

Screenshot/9 News

As for Hailey, one year later and she is thriving. Her mom said:

“She’s the strongest girl I know. […] She’s come so far and she’s such a tough girl.”

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