Orem woman scarred by aerial firework warns others

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OREM — Monday was the first day you could legally set off fireworks in Utah. Besides the extreme fire danger, firefighters have also worried about firework injuries. An Orem woman said she was very familiar with that danger after being permanently scarred by an encounter with an aerial firework.

Pat Benson was celebrating Independence Day in 2017 like many families do, with a barbecue and a few fireworks in her cul-de-sac.

“They were shooting them off and we were back here sitting,” said Benson. “We thought that far away it wouldn’t be a problem.”

At first, everything was fine, but then it all went sideways. An aerial firework tipped over and shot straight at Benson and hit her in the legs.

“The balls were exploding as soon as they hit me. Then they kept exploding,” said Benson. “It was a deep, deep pain — bruising like you’d been hit with a baseball bat. I was screaming because it was really, really painful.”

The mistake Benson’s family made was they didn’t secure the firework properly.

“Our first and foremost concern is always going to be safety and well-being,” said Matthew McFarland, firefighter for the Unified Fire Authority. “Holidays are great, but let’s make sure nobody gets hurt in the process.”

McFarland did a demonstration with KSL to show the correct way to set off aerial fireworks and recommended these safety tips:

  • Always have a bucket of water and a working hose nearby, in case you have to put out a fire.
  • Stabilize aerial fireworks with bricks or cinder blocks so there isn’t a danger of tipping.
  • Always wear safety glasses.
  • After your fireworks have cooled, put them in a bucket of water to ensure there’s no burning material left.

Benson was scarred from the burns on her thighs and fingers, but she’s glad it wasn’t worse. Pictures of her injuries and burn marks on the chair she was sitting in are a constant reminder of the potential danger fireworks pose.

“It’s not worth it to use the aerials,” said Benson. “They’re just too dangerous.”

She agreed with firefighters, and said from now on, she and her family will leave the firework shows to the professionals.

“There are so many beautiful firework shows that you can go to,” said Benson. “Go and enjoy them and don’t have the danger of something happening like this.”


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