Talking with Kids About Fireworks: Have a Bang, but Keep It Safe!

Kids love summertime, and especially summertime holidays. Their energy and enthusiasm for special holiday activities can sometimes lead them to doing something unwise or even dangerous. This is especially true around the 4th of July, when setting off fireworks is an American tradition like hot dogs, baseball, and apple pie. As parents, it’s important to make sure they know the dangers, proper precautions and common sense safety tips to keep in mind when they are enjoying fireworks.

Keeping kids safe when fireworks are involved can be challenging anytime, but there are different challenges that come with different ages.

Young Children and Fireworks

Most young children are fascinated and delighted by things that go “Boom!” and spread fire and lights. In warning children of the dangers, parents should acknowledge that the child likes the noise and spectacular sights and agree that they are fun. Don’t just issue terse warnings. If children are told something is dangerous or “bad” without an explanation of why, and then they see others enjoying it, they are likely to want to investigate for themselves. It’s better to offer some common-sense guidelines, such as:

  • Don’t play with any fireworks, even sparklers, without adult supervision. Only adults should handle things like firecrackers and rockets.
  • Even sparklers are dangerous. They burn at about 2,000 degrees.
  • Always use fireworks outside, and in a clear area. Stay away from buildings and vehicles.
  • Stay a safe distance away from others.
  • Never point or throw a firework at anyone.
  • Only light one firework at a time.
  • Don’t ever pick up a dropped firework, or even part of one that looks like it may have already exploded.

These guidelines, if explained seriously but in a way that shows that fireworks, properly used, can be a lot of fun, should help prevent accidents and injuries.

Of course, there are some children who are frightened by fireworks. The noise and sudden bright lights may startle them, or even hurt their ears. It’s important that you talk through these fears with the children and be empathetic and compassionate with them. Most children outgrow these fears, but in the meantime, parents may want to have the child use earplugs or find alternate activities for them in which to participate.

Teens and Fireworks

Because there are age limitations on sales of fireworks, parents don’t need to be as concerned with younger children getting fireworks on their own. However, with the teen years and greater independence, this can become an issue. It’s important when discussing fireworks with teens, parents remain non-judgmental. It may be that your teen isn’t interested in setting off fireworks with friends, so don’t just assume that they will be engaging in illegal or risky behavior. Their friends however may want to, so sharing safety guidelines in case they are around others who are setting off fireworks could prevent serious problems later.

  • Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in plain brown paper. This is often an indication that they are made for professional displays and could be very dangerous to someone not properly trained in their use.
  • Never try to make your own fireworks or stay around people who are setting off home-made fireworks.
  • Always have a generous supply of water on hand in case of fire or some other mishap.

Important Reminders for All Ages

Whatever ages your children are, encourage them to take a practical, common sense approach to fireworks fun. Consider public displays, which can be fun, safe, and spectacular. And, be considerate of little children who maybe afraid and also of pets. Have fun, but always keep it safe.

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