Sparklers are a fun way to celebrate the Fourth of July. Children, especially, are in awe by their beautiful glow, bright colors, and crackling sounds. And although present at most family-friendly, backyard gatherings, kids and parents should take caution when sparklers are present. The phrase “You’re playing with fire,” becomes a reality when sparklers are ignited. Although their beautiful glow is enticing, the reality is a sparkler is still a small fire (hopefully) confined to a stick.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), sparklers accounted for 14 percent of firework related injuries in a 2017 study. Additionally, the study showed sparklers accounted for a third of the estimated injuries for children under the age of 5. According to the report, the majority of sparkler injuries were hand or finger related; head, face or ear injuries were second most common and leg injuries came in as the third most common region.
To help avoid injury when using sparklers, be sure to pack the following in your bag for your next party where sparklers will be present. If you do have any sparkler related injuries, continuing read below about when a trip to urgent care is a good idea versus when an emergency room visit may be required.
Packing Your Bag for Sparkler Safety
1) Red Solo Cup
Wait a minute. This was supposed to be tips for keeping kids safe with sparklers. Why is a red solo cup needed? Knowing hand injuries are the most common sparkler related injury, protect your children’s hands and wrists by placing their hand under the cup with the sparkler going through the cup. Any sparks that fly will fall on the cup instead of their hand.
2) Closed-Toe Shoes
It’s a summer party and the kids haven’t worn socks since school let out. But, closed-toe shoes will protect their feet when sparks fall, or if they accidentally drop a sparkler. Plus, closed-toe shoes tend to have thicker soles than a sandal and if they step on a hot sparkler on the ground, that thick sole could save their foot from major burns.
3) Metal Bucket
Honestly, we would recommend you bring a hose, but showing up to a backyard party with a hose might be a little much. (Take note: if you are hosting, have a hose handy!) As a guest, bring a metal bucket so when the sparkler runs out, it can be thrown into the metal bucket filled with water. This will help ensure the sparkler is completely out before discarding any used sparklers.
4) Ponytails and Hats
Protect your child’s head and face with something as simple as a ponytail and hat. If a child has long hair, it’s best to keep it pulled back in a ponytail so as the child twirls with their sparkler, no twirling hair catches on fire. And while it’s unlikely short hair will catch on fire in the same manner, wearing a hat is another proactive layer between the head, hair and sparkler.
5) Non-Aerosol, Non-Deet Bug Spray
Let’s face it. It’s a backyard party in the Tri-States. There will be bugs. And while it’s important to keep the pesky bugs away, it’s also important to be selective about what type of bug spray you are using when sparklers are present. Aerosol and deet are both, typically, highly flammable items. Pick out a bug spray that not only keeps the bugs away, but is safe around sparklers. Be sure to read the back of any bug spray for cautionary measures to take when used around fire.
If you do experience a sparkler related injury (or any other injuries during the holiday), know your options when it comes to care. UnityPoint Clinic Urgent Care is open 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily – including all holidays. Urgent care is a great option for minor burns, illnesses or injuries; whereas UnityPoint Health - St. Luke's Emergency Room, open 24/7, is best for severe burns, illnesses and injuries.
Where To Go For Care
- Non-life-threatening injuries
- Allergic reactions
- Rashes or skin infections
- Minor burns
- Insect bites, minor animal or human bites
- Minor lacerations (cuts), contusions, or abrasions
- Illnesses such as cough, sore throat, ear pain, fever
- Vomiting, diarrhea
- Chest pain
- Head injury
- Open fractures
- Symptoms of a stroke including sudden dizziness, weakness, loss of coordination, balance and vision problems
- Loss of consciousness (with or without head injury)
- Abdominal pain (sudden or severe)
- Head pain (sudden or severe)
- Severe lacerations (cuts)
- Injuries as a result of a car accident
- Foreign body in eye