WARNING THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS GRAPHIC INJURY IMAGES
A teenager’s thumb was left hanging by a thread after his hand was nearly blown off by a powerful explosion from a firework.
Oldham lad Rio Diveney, 16, needed pins inserted into his thumb, before it was stitched back onto his hand.
His entire hand was split down the middle after he ignited the gunpowder contained in the £25 rocket.
He also suffered burns to his chest, arms and abdomen. After being taken to the Royal Oldham Hospital by the mother of one of his friends, he was later transferred to Wythenshawe Burns Unit for further treatment.
The horror unfolded at Roundthorn Road, Oldham, after Rio’s friends had retrieved a rocket that had failed to explode.
Dad Ricky, 37, explained: “They had taken the rocket apart with the gunpowder out of it and Rio’s gone down there and decided to light it.
“But it exploded immediately, damaging his hand and ruining his clothes.”
Ricky added: “The doctors said he was lucky his hand wasn’t blown completely off, the firework was that powerful.”
Rio has spoken about his ordeal as part of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service’s (GMFRS) ‘Bang Out of Order’ campaign.
Rio said: “One of my friends said he had this firework, he brought it outside, I thought it was just a normal firework. I took it to the corner of the street went to light it and it just blew up, it didn’t make the normal noise a firework would.”
And Rio, a keen footballer who plays as a winger for Tameside Sunday League team Manor FC, sent out a powerful message to other young people and children: “I’ve learnt that if someone offers you a firework, don’t take it. Think about what can actually happen.
“As a family, we don’t normally have our own fireworks, we attend organised displays. I will never mess with fireworks again.
“I’ve been very lucky, I could’ve lost my hand completely, or the use of it, but I have been told I will regain the full use of it.”
Rio, of Sunfield Avenue, Moorside, is a former pupil of Newman RC College in Chadderton. He left recently to begin a joinery apprenticeship and is hoping to return to work and play football as soon as possible.
The teenager is undergoing weeks of physiotherapy before he will get full use of his hand back and is currently unable to attend college as part of the apprenticeship.
Rio added: “I can’t do things – my dad has to help me do everything. I am right-handed, it’s stopped me from doing most things. I have been very lucky, doctors have said I could’ve lost my first finger, my thumb, they said it could have been my face. It could have been my heart where my stitches were – it could’ve been a lot worse than it was.
“If anyone brings you a firework, just think twice and say no because this is what can happen.”
The incident comes as GMFRS urges the public to stay safe on Bonfire Night.
GMFRS, alongside partner agencies, including Greater Manchester Police (GMP) and North West Ambulance Service (NWAS), is calling on the public to think carefully about their actions and support the emergency services to keep the public safe.
People are advised to go to organised firework displays but if they are having fireworks at home, buy them from a licensed retailer and follow the Firework Safety Code.
Val Hussain, GMFRS group manager for Bury, Oldham and Rochdale, said: “Every year we see a number of people, including children, injured through the misuse of fireworks and sadly we have seen it happen again in recent weeks.
“Our advice would be, if possible, go to an organised bonfire and fireworks display, and if you are doing this, please don’t forget to keep up with all the COVID-19 measures. If you are going to use fireworks at home, then please follow the firework code and that starts with making sure the fireworks have the CE standard mark on them.
“Fireworks can be enjoyable but can also be extremely dangerous if not used correctly.”
GMFRS runs a fireworks amnesty with the aim to drive down firework-related accidents and keep Greater Manchester safe during the Bonfire period by allowing members of the public to dispose of fireworks safely. Contact GMFRS on 0800 555 815 to have fireworks safely collected.
Firework Safety Code
Ideally attend an organised display
Fireworks must not be sold to any person under the age of 18
Buy fireworks marked CE
Keep fireworks in a closed metal box and use them one at a time
Read and follow the instructions on each firework
Light the fireworks at arm’s length with a taper and stand well back
Keep naked flames, including cigarettes, away from fireworks
Never return to a firework once it has been lit
Never put fireworks in your pocket
Never throw fireworks
Light sparklers one at a time and wear gloves
Keep a bucket of water nearby at all times
Alcohol and fireworks do not mix and may lead to injury
Keep pets indoors
Other Safety Tips
Buy fireworks from a licensed retailer
Always supervise children around fireworks
Never give sparklers to a child under the age of 5
Prepare for the party in advance, and in daylight. On the night you will need a torch, a bucket of water, eye protection and gloves, a bucket of soft earth to put fireworks in and suitable supports and launchers if you’re setting off Catherine wheels or rockets
Leave the lighting of fireworks to responsible adults only
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