Indiana mom loses finger after fireworks incident

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - A central Indiana woman is recovering after suffering a fireworks-related injury over the Fourth of July weekend.

Kaitlyn Starks, 22, said she was holding a Roman candle Saturday when it exploded in her hand. She was airlifted to St. Vincent Hospital from Winchester, Indiana for treatment. Starks underwent surgery and lost her index finger.

"I thought that I was going to lose my entire hand," Starks said. "You never think that something like this would happen to you."

Starks was enjoying a celebratory night with her family when the explosion happened. Family members say other fireworks purchased from a distributor in Winchester were causing some issues prior to the ordeal. When the blast occurred, Starks' stepfather worked to keep her calm while her mother called 911.

Now, Starks says she wants to share her experience so others don't have to endure the same pain.

"I want them to be aware not to hold a Roman candle in their hand like I did because I know some people aren’t as lucky and they lose entire limbs where I was lucky enough to just lose one finger," Starks said.

While Starks is thankful she didn't lose her hand, she gets emotional talking about the ways this accident changed her life.

"I have two little boys, a two-year-old and five-month-old," Starks said. "I still have a long road ahead of me."

Emergency room doctors say they routinely see people suffering from fireworks related injuries during the Fourth of July weekend. Last year, 181 such injuries were reported in Indiana.

Dr. Gina Swartzel, from Eskenazi Health, said the more severe injuries usually involved larger fireworks and Roman candles.

"The things that we commonly see are burns,  particularly to the fingers hands and arms," Swartzel said. "Sometimes, that can extend to the chest and face."

Swartzel said parents should be aware of the dangers of sparklers, too.

"A lot of people don’t realize that sparklers can get incredibly hot, up to 2000 degrees, and  stay hot after they finish burning," she said.

Swartzel advises people to seek medical attention if they suffer a burn to a large area or notice blistering.

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