“The Fireworks Mistake I Will Always Regret”

What started out as a fun Fourth of July party quickly turned dangerous for this innocent bystander.

Some fireworks mishaps are extremely disappointing, like the time when San Diego accidentally set off all its July 4 fireworks at once, bringing an 18-minute planned-show to a close in a matter of seconds. But if no one gets hurt, we consider it a “win.”

Unfortunately, that was the case when then-teenager Mackie Hill took a hit from what she describes as a “ball of fire” back when she was in high school in the mid-aughts.

It happened at a backyard party in Pennsylvania, where New Jersey native, Mackie, and her friends had traveled to see an amateur backyard fireworks show. (More types of fireworks are legal in Pennsylvania than in New Jersey.)

Although it seemed like a perfectly good idea before the fact, “as things were getting set up and about to start, I had a bad feeling,” Mackie tells Reader’s Digest. It was such a bad feeling, in fact, that Mackie decided to head into the house to watch from inside. “While walking back towards the house, I heard the fireworks starting to go off behind me and turned around to see them,” she recalls.

Big mistake.

It was at that moment that a stray firework was flying directly at Mackie, and, before she had a chance to react, she was hit in the chest. Making matters worse, she was wearing a halter top. In her panic, she forgot all about “stop, drop and roll.” Instead, she tried to smother the fire with her hands, but she realized the actual firework was still on her skin.

“It was literally melting into my skin,” she recalls. “I had to find a way to pull it off with my bare hands.” At that point, Mackie must have gone into shock because although she was later diagnosed with deep second- and third-degree burns, she managed to walk herself inside the house, where she found a bathroom and cleaned the soot off of herself. Then she proceeded to hide her injuries from her mom…until she couldn’t take the pain anymore.

“After I reluctantly told her, she made me go to the hospital,” Mackie says. That’s where she was diagnosed with burns so deep, her doctor was amazed that she’d managed to treat her burns herself so effectively they were already beginning to heal. (Not surprisingly, burns are one of the most common firework injuries.) “It is now a decade later and I am happy to say, I only have one small scar on the base of my wrist as proof of the incident.” To stay safe this Independence Day, avoid the 8 most dangerous types of fireworks.

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Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a New York-based writer whose work has appeared regularly on Reader's Digest, The Huffington Post, and a variety of other publications since 2008. She covers life and style, popular culture, law, religion, health, fitness, yoga, entertaining and entertainment. Lauren is also an author of crime fiction; her first full-length manuscript, The Trust Game, was short-listed for the 2017 CLUE Award for emerging talent in the genre of suspense fiction.