This Thursday, July 4, 2013, we will celebrate our nation’s freedom. For many, a large part of that celebration includes taking in a fireworks display. For many others, they will celebrate with wire sparklers. Both of these activities can be enjoyable but may also be dangerous, as well.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that in 2011 there were four deaths from fireworks and an estimated 9,600 injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms. Children under the age of 15 accounted for approximately twenty  six percent (26%) of these estimated injuries. There were an estimated 1,100 emergency department treated injuries associated with sparklers in 2011.

It is important to remember that in Ohio, it is illegal to set off fireworks unless you are a professional and are liencsed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. If you do take in a fireworks display put on by professionals, please respect the area they have marked off as a “no man’s land.” This is for your safety. Any unexploded shells should land in the “no man’s land” area, away from spectators, in an effort to avoid injuries.

Wire sparklers, while entertaining, are still dangerous. They reach an excessive temperature while they are lit, and can take a long time to cool down in order to handle safely. If you are going to allow your child or children to play with sparklers, please be sure to supervise them very closely. Here are some tips for the safe handling of wire sparklers:

Lighting the sparkler:

(1) Choose a location away from the wind

(2) Only light one sparlker at a time, as when a sparkler is first lit, it may surprise you and burst into life in a halo of sparks. Lighting more than one sparkler at a time can be very dangerous

(3) Don’t use matches, either paper or stick. Sparklers can take a while to ignite and a match generally does not burn long enough to raise the temperature to where it needs to be to get the sparkler lit. The best way to light a sparkler is either a butane lighter, a barbeque lighter, or a propane torch.

(4) The easiest way to light sparklers is to light one and then use that one to light any additional sparkleres. Have one person designated as lighter and line everyone else up in a row (not single file) with their sparkler in their hand

(5) hold the sparkler horizontally or with the tip slightly lowerd when lighting, to minimize the chance of burning yourself

(6) always light the sparkler at the tip that this the farthest away from the bare wire handle.

Handling the light sparkler: 

(1) Be CAREFUL! That thing is HOT!

(2) Keep the sparkler at an arm’s length away from your face, your body, your clothing, yourself, or anyone else

(3) Good, quality sparklers should burn in a continuous, smooth progression down the length of the coated portion of the wire and should not have to be re-lit

(4) Never hold a sparkler close to your face or eyes

(5) Young children, if permitted to use the sparklers, shoud be closely supervised to be sure they do not throw the sparkler, run with a sparkler, run into a sparkler being held by someone else, or grab a spent sparkler by the hot end

(6) Sparklers are hot when burning; never bring a burning sparkler in close contact to any other material; it may leave scorch marks or possibly ignite the material. Be extremely careful with highly flammable materials such as gasoline, hair spray, nail polish or alcohol. In fact, it would be best to keep the sparklers far away from these items.

Disposing of Spent Sparklers: 

(1) Sparklers stay very hot for some time after they’ve stopped burning. Never grab or touch the burned portion of a sparklre after it has gone out

(2) Have one or several buckets or large metal pans of water or sand available to place the spent sparklers in. This will safely dispose of the sparklers and make cleanup super easy

(3) Once the sparklers are cooled, simply toss in the trash.