Play It Safe with July 4 Sparklers

If you love the July 4 holiday as much as we do, you probably have a few boxes of July 4 sparklers ready to go.

Be careful with kids around July 4 sparklers
July 4 sparklers: pretty but can burn.

But if you have young kids around—say, under five—take extra care with those sparklers. Because even though they don’t explode like fireworks, they can burn if they aren’t handled properly.

July 4 is an exciting holiday, particularly for little kids. It’s not the best time to start with safety instructions, especially when they’re revved up on ice cream and other treats!

Keep July 4 Sparklers at a Safe Distance

I’m not going to say no to sparklers. I do suggest thinking twice about handing a lit one to a two-year old.

Sparklers are pretty! Little kids love them. But the truth is that they are combustibles, just like fireworks, and on a smaller scale.

Your typical younger toddler might be happy to hold and watch the pretty sparkler. But what if s/he drops it? That’s a big owie for whoever it lands on.

Your typical older toddler will probably take off running with a sparkler. I don’t have to go into details about how that can turn out, do I?

You can let your kids safely enjoy sparklers, from a distance. Keep the kids at least six feet away from them. That’s closer than you might think—consider a reasonably tall man’s height. To be safer, imagine the distance LeBron would cover if he were lying on the ground between your kid(s) and the sparklers.

  • Stick sparklers firmly into damp ground so they don’t topple over and spark onto something that can catch fire, like dried up grass. Or fill a large container with wet sand to hold them up.
  • Light one stick at a time.
  • Don’t let anyone touch them even after they burn out. They’re still hot.
  • When you do pull them up, drop them into a container with water to make sure there are no surviving embers.
  • Wear open-toe shoes around sparklers at your own risk.

Don’t throw your sparklers into air or toss or wave them around. If a sparkler or spark lands on someone, that’s another big owie! If they land on something very dry, there’s the darn fire dangers we’re always talking about in central Arizona.

Sparklers are Hot Items

July 4 sparklers are hot items in every sense of the word.

I know, I sound like a scold but I read this on Wired, OK??

  • Depending on the quality of the sparkler, they heat up to 1800º – 3000° F. That’s quite a bit hotter than that barbecue grill you’ve been shooing the kids away from.
  • While a single spark will cool very quickly, those that are larger and come out in larger amounts are more likely to burn. Think of what can happen if a sparkler is dropped on another person.

The National Fire Protection Association says sparklers can cause third-degree burns. They’re the reason for about a quarter of emergency room visits caused by fireworks. (I know, they aren’t the same but they are apparently coded that way for the insurance companies.) Fireworks are the reason for 18,500 ER visits each year.

Cup Shields for Sparklers? Really?

I know some people poke a hole through a cup to string a sparkler through it. The thought is that the cup covers and protect a kid’s  hand. I suppose this is better than nothing, but remember, sparks jump around. Since we’re talking about very short arms, they can easily fly into the face, on hair, to any nearby body part.

My advice is little ones should just enjoy the sparkler sights. I’d rather see them holding a Popsicle or ice cream cone.

If you really, really want your kid to experience the thrill of a sparkler, well, there are apps for this!

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