Is It Safe for Children to Use Sparklers?

J. Beam

Sparklers are a long-standing tradition during Fourth of July celebrations and other backyard summer parties. Though they are primarily sold at retailers in the United States only during the weeks preceding the Fourth of July, they are both inexpensive and plentiful. While sparklers are a fun way for children to get involved in the celebration, they are still a type of firework and pose risks for injury if not used correctly.

Children should be instructed by adults how to properly hold sparklers and how to safely use them.
Children should be instructed by adults how to properly hold sparklers and how to safely use them.

The slow-burning, handheld fireworks are simply a chemical mixture molded onto the end of a stiff wire. Once a sparkler is lit and the chemicals reach a high enough temperature, the reaction results in colored sparks that are emitted until the mold has progressively burnt out. While in theory, the chemical reaction created by lit sparklers is safe, their use is only safe for children who are properly instructed and supervised.

Sparklers pose risks for injury it not used correctly.
Sparklers pose risks for injury it not used correctly.

The primary safety concern for children using sparklers is burns. At the core of of the firework, the temperature can reach 1800° Fahrenheit (982°C). A third degree burn can result from temperatures of only 220°F (104°C). For this reason, adults should always show children how to hold sparklers and instruct them on safe handling. Young children who cannot control themselves should never handle any fireworks, and older children should always have adult supervision.

To keep the use of sparklers safe and fun, make sure to use common sense and practical safety measures. Adults should not let children light their own sparklers and should not attempt to re-light those that have malfunctioned. Because these fireworks burn so hot, they retain their heat for a period of time even after they have burned out, a bucket of water should be kept nearby to dispose of them after use. Sparklers inadvertently tossed to the ground can create a burn hazard for barefoot children, so everyone should wear shoes. Children should also be instructed not to touch the top part of a sparkler once it has been lit and make sure they never stick a lit one near anyone’s face, including their own.

If a burn or chemical reaction occurs, it's important to treat the burn immediately and properly. People should never use sparklers in place of candles on a cake, because the metal flakes that are emitted from them are not safe to ingest. With proper supervision and responsible use, sparklers can be safe and they add fun to summer celebrations, which gives kids something to look forward to.

Small children may be at risk of being burned while using sparklers.
Small children may be at risk of being burned while using sparklers.

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Discussion Comments


Sparklers make a really unique and fun wedding favor but you have to take into account the children at your wedding of course.

Either seat them with some adults who don't mind keeping an eye on them, or give them something in place of the sparklers because a group of kids with access to fireworks and no official adult supervision is a recipe for trouble.

But don't let that put you off. If you combine sparklers with instant cameras you can end up with all kinds of cool photos of your wedding, with sparkler graffiti!

Don't forget to provide lighters for your guests... another item to keep out of the hands of the kids.


Sparklers were always my favorite firework when I was small. They probably still are, although I really like starbursts as well.

I think that it would be a shame if they ever ban sparklers. They have banned quite a few other kinds of fireworks for personal use, and for the most part I agree with it. There are a lot of fires started on firework celebrations and people can be really stupid.

But, sparklers are so much fun to use and you have to really be doing something wrong to misuse them. As long as you keep a good eye on your kids and teach them to respect the sparklers and other fireworks (a good lesson anyway) we will all be able to enjoy them for years to come.

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