PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The dangers of fireworks. Hospitals are gearing up for an expected patient increase this fourth of July weekend. Emergency rooms treated 8,600 firework related injuries last year. Most are serious burns and eye injuries. One New Jersey family wants everyone to know no amount of fun and excitement is worth the risk.

Celebrating American Independence on the fourth the festivities can quickly turn tragic, in backyard accidents. This is what happened to 20-year-old Thomas Eldershaw.

“In literally less than a second my entire life was changed,” said Thomas. He was at a backyard party in Jackson, New Jersey when a firework exploded in his face.

“At first I was in shock, and then the pain and the burning, the running of the blood. It was really honestly unimaginable amounts of pain,” said Thomas.

He was left blind in one eye, and was eventually fitted with a prosthetic eye.

“A little bit of entertainment is simply not worth a life of blindness and possible disfigurement,” said Dr. Julia Haller with Wills Eye Hospital. She says it happens every year. In spite of all the warnings people are still getting injured.

“Fireworks can cause blindness and disfigurement. I mean they can really change your life instantaneously for the worse. You can be a perfectly normal person one second, and the next everything has altered,” said Dr. Haller.

Even how he uses his phone. Thomas says he’s finally come to grips with not only losing part of his vision but also his dreams of becoming a police officer.

Watch the video…

“This is the way it is today, tomorrow, and the rest of my life. It doesn’t heal. It doesn’t get better. You’re blind and that’s it. And it’s all because of a firework, something that could have been avoided so easily,” said Thomas.

Doctors say any kind of fireworks at home are potentially dangerous. They say it’s best to stick with the professional shows.


Firework Safety Information

Reported by Stephanie Stahl, CBS 3

Stephanie Stahl