WARNING GRAPHIC IMAGES BELOW
With Independence Day currently in full swing, NFL player Jason Pierre-Paul is hoping to remind others about the importance of fireworks safety by revealing pictures of the gruesome he experienced three years ago.
On July 4, 2015, Pierre-Paul — who was then a defensive end on the New York Giants — almost blew off his right hand while handling fireworks.
The injury left his hand completely disfigured and led to his index figure being amputated. In the three years since then, Pierre-Paul has worked to remind families to be extra cautious while handling fireworks when Independence Day rolls around.
This year, the NFL player, who is now a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after returning to the game despite his injury, upped the ante by posting a collection of never-before-seen pictures to Instagram that show his mangled hand in the first few days after the incident.
The photographs show bandages wrapped around what’s left of Pierre-Paul’s right fingers as other medical instruments keep his charred skin attached over his exposed body tissue.
WARNING GRAPHIC IMAGES BELOW
“It’s been since my accident and I can truly say I’m very blessed and fortunate to be where I am in life,” the 29-year-old athlete wrote in the caption of his Instagram post, uploaded on July 3. “Looking at these pictures seems unreal and crazy. How your life can change in the blink of an eye.”
While the Fourth of July is a day of celebration for the entire country, someone will undoubtedly suffer a serious injury while playing with fireworks, Pierre-Paul reminded.
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“One of the greatest American traditions in celebrating 4th of July is with fireworks. Unfortunately, tomorrow someone will be injured playing with fireworks,” he wrote. “We are celebrating the birthday of our great nation. I’m glad to still be alive to show you the outcome of what happened to me.”
While Pierre-Paul has been able to recover from the incident, he hopes to spare others the pain he experienced.
“Please don’t feel sorry for me, trust me your boy fine even with missing fingers,” he wrote. “Be safe out there otherwise, this can be you.”
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The pictures have gone viral, garnering more than 32,000 likes and hundreds of comments on the social media platform.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, thousands around the country, most often children and teens, are injured while celebrating the July 4 holiday. Emergency rooms treated almost 13,000 people for fireworks-related injuries just last year. The association recommends people refrain from using consumer fireworks and instead attend shows put on by professionals. If there are consumer fireworks around, they advise keeping a close watch on children, who typically account for one-third of injuries.