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Kent Long

Firework burns can happen to anyone, even Kent Long, a professional chef who was well-versed in kitchen burn safety.

June 27, 2023
Kent Long smiles while out golfing with his son.

Disclaimer: This testimonial may include a potentially graphic medical image.

July 4th is the one of the busiest times of the year for fireworks stands and neighborhood gatherings. It is also the busiest day of the year for burn centers like the Grossman Burn Center at Research Medical Center.

“We have daily experience with burn injuries, and July 4th is no exception,” said Megan Garcia, MD, general surgeon and burn specialist. “Third degree burns over important areas like hands, fingers and legs, can be debilitating.”

Kent Long, 48, of Overland Park, Kan., was no stranger to burn safety.

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

On July 4, 2022, however, a simple mistake led to him needing to seek care at the Grossman Burn Center.

“My incident was just an accident as many are,” said Kent. “Now that my son was 12, we ventured out on July 4th for bigger fireworks. 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.”

Unfortunately for Kent, one of the fireworks fell over since it wasn’t properly secured in place.

“I was seated in a folding chair about 15-20 feet away and one shot up my shorts a burned the back of my thigh resulting in 1st to 3rd degree burns.”

Kent Long suffered 1st to 3rd degree burns on the back of his thighs due to fireworks injury.

Kent was taken to the Grossman Burn Center where he would spend about 10 days in inpatient care and would undergo 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. Now about a year from my accident I have had no issues or concerns from the procedure that was done.”

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 Dr. Garcia. “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.”

If you do plan to shoot off your own fireworks, however, Dr. Garcia has some advice to help keep you safe and out of the hospital on July 4th.

“Always use eye protection, even if you’re not the one doing the lighting. 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, Kent said, “a simple 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 my accident.”

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.

June 27, 2023
Research Medical Center, Grossman Burn Center

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