Fireworks are an American institution on the Fourth of July.
Last summer, Paulix Cruz, 14, of Carrollton, decided to play with a firecracker for the first time. And seconds later, he learned how dangerous they can be.
"My little brother started screaming; he ran inside and told my mom and my family," Cruz told NBC DFW about the moment he realized his firecracker had exploded in his hand as he was lighting it.
"My skin was coming off," Cruz said, pointing to the place on his left index finger and thumb which now, one year later, look completely normal.
Cruz credits his recovery from second-degree burns to Dr. Pedro Loredo, of the ReNova Hand Center in Plano.
"The question I get the most, 'Which fireworks are safe?' There really isn't a safe firework," Loredo, a fellowship hand surgeon, said Wednesday, just days ahead of his busiest time of the year.
Most of Dr. Loredo's fireworks-related patients are between the ages of four and 12, and the most common culprit is a sparkler, because it burns so hot.
Dr. Loredo advises anyone who plans to use fireworks this holiday season to do so only with adult supervision, to read and follow any safety warning, to be aware of their surroundings and to have a water source on hand to extinguish any resulting fire.
As for Paulix Cruz, Dr. Loredo treated his burns with a specialized ointment.
"I think this went on for six weeks, which he did well, but unfortunately his summertime was kind of ruined," Dr. Loredo said.
One year removed from the pain and suffering, Cruz has some basic advice of his own that he wants to pass along.
"Kids, don't play with fireworks," Cruz said, who vowed he will listen to his own recommendation.