HOUSTON – A mother shared her family’s story Thursday after a firework severely burned her 4-year-old daughter. She hopes her experience will prevent another accident this holiday season.
"It actually hit Shelby straight in the chest and she caught on fire,” said mother Casey Rodriguez.
Shelby Rodriguez became a victim in Crosby on July 4. Her mother said Shelby was watching the fireworks from a safe distance, but a bottle rocket tipped over and shot Shelby in the chest. Family members quickly put the fire out and took Shelby to the emergency room.
“It was something very hard to go through, but I was more worried about her and how she was going to go on with the rest of her life,” said Casey Rodriguez.
Shelby’s doctor, Dr. Todd Huzar, of Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital, said the family did the right thing.
Huzar said that if there’s an accident, put the fire out, run the burn under room temperature water, cover it with a wet towel or plastic wrap and go to an emergency room as soon as possible.
“My recommendation, if the burn is small, maybe the size of a nickel or a quarter, (it) may be OK," Huzar said. "Anything bigger than a child’s palm should definitely be brought to the emergency room."
Shelby suffered second- and third-degree burns and has undergone several surgeries, including a skin graft.
Huzar said it’s the emotional scars that can last a long time.
“It’s a recovery process that could take years, even decades to kind of recover from,” he said.
Casey Rodriguez said she doesn’t want another family to suffer as hers has.
“You can never be too careful," she said. "I would say, 'Go watch the fireworks where you’re nowhere near. Don’t buy the ones at the stands.' It could happen to anybody. Unfortunately, we took all the precautions we could -- kept them away, let the adults light the fireworks -- but even at that, things happen."
Shelby is still undergoing therapy and may have another surgery, doctors said. Doctors said her physical recovery could take up to two years.
Fire officials remind everyone that fireworks are illegal in the city of Houston.