Seven years ago, Kryshelle Houghton safely stood on her driveway watching friends shoot off New Year’s Eve fireworks. She never imagined what impact that celebration would have on the rest of her life. After a friend lit off a firework ironically named the “Lucky Seven,” it accidentally tipped over and hit Houghton directly in her left eye. Tragically, Houghton, who was 19 at the time, lost the vision in her eye that night.
In Houghton’s case, she wasn’t participating in any sort of risky firework behavior at the time of her accident. “I wasn’t doing anything unsafe – I was standing there in the driveway watching a show in the road,” Houghton said. “People don’t realize how unsafe [fireworks] can be. They can be so dangerous. I personally don’t ever do the big, huge type of fireworks. If we do fireworks, we go to a show put on by the city.”
After years of surgeries and plenty of strange looks, Houghton received the last of her eye surgeries in April. Doctors removed her eye, sewed her eye socket shut, and gave her a prosthetic eye six weeks later. It has a hand-painted iris to match her other eye, and a Utah Valley surgeon attached the prosthetic to her muscles so it moves at the same time as her other eye.
“I’m an adult and done growing, so I can leave this in forever. I don’t ever have to get another prosthetic eye again unless something happens to it. I pretty much keep it in all the time, even when I sleep or swim. It just stays in,” said Houghton, who is now married with two children.
Houghton works as a radiology technician at the InstaCare in north Orem. She encourages everyone to focus more on fireworks safety during their celebrations this summer.
To do that, the Trauma Services team at Utah Valley Hospital offers these safety tips:
- Don’t allow young children to light or play with fireworks. Sparklers burn at temperatures around 2,000 degrees or hot enough to burn some metals.
- Know your fireworks; read the cautionary labels and performance descriptions before igniting
- Light fireworks outdoors in a clear area away from houses, dry leaves or grass
- Never try to relight or handle fireworks that won’t light
- Always have a responsible adult supervise fireworks activities
- Always keep a bucket of water nearby