Celebrate 4th of July With These Fiery Sparklers (Plus Some Safer, Kid-Friendly Alternatives)

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best 4th of july sparklers

We’ll admit: 4th of July sparklers can be a little — er — controversial. It shouldn’t be a surprise that most doctors and fire experts don’t recommend sparklers for kids. But raise your hand if you played with sparklers when you were young! Most of us have fond memories of twirling them like magic wands, skipping around picnic tables covered in red white and blue treats, and wearing a patriotic outfit for the occasion. Whether or not you feel comfortable giving your children sparklers for 4th of July is ultimately up to you, but we spoke with a few experts to get their recommendations for festive fun, as well as what they suggest as a safer alternative to sparklers.

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As you know, sparklers are those metal sticks you light on fire, so how could they possibly be dangerous? In all seriousness, though, sparklers are ultimately a ball of fire that’s a little bit unwieldy, so it’s incredibly important to handle them carefully. Jeffrey Litt, DO FACS and Medical Director of the Burn and Wound Program at MU Health Care, knows how dangerous these sparklers can be. “They can burn over 1,000 degrees, which can cause instantaneous third-degree burns,” he says. “Have I allowed my kids to use them, in spite of that? Yes, but I’m extraordinarily vigilant (can’t have the burn surgeons’ kids get burns, after all!).” He recommends that anyone who uses them — adult, kid, or otherwise — be very aware of how best to safely handle them and know how to extinguish the fire should you need to.

Dennis Heon, MD, trauma liaison for pediatric emergency medicine, Ronald O. Perelman Department of Emergency Medicine at NYU Langone Health, points out that not only do you need to worry about the fire spouting off the end of the stick, but actually the stick itself; your risk of eye injury is actually pretty present. “Eye injuries also are common because sparklers are often waved around and held up at eye-height to see the display,” he notes. And though he says that injuries from sparklers aren’t super common, that doesn’t mean they’re a safe toy to play with for 4th of July or any holiday.

What’s the safest way to handle sparklers?

“If [parents are] going to use them, hold them below your shoulders where your body is more protected,” Dr. Heon advises. “It’s also very important to be aware of your immediate surroundings and ensure no one is within a spinning radius around you.” Taking care of your surroundings — and making sure there’s nothing flammable nearby — is another great tip if you decide to use sparklers. Consider having a fire extinguisher or fire extinguishing aerosol spray nearby. And of course, they are best used outside only.

In the end, though, sparklers are probably best left for the adults (and at the very least, older kids who can use them responsibly), but that doesn’t mean your little ones can’t still have fun. John D’Alessandro, Spokesperson and Secretary of the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York, suggests people of all ages find their local fireworks show and simply sit down and enjoy watching the show, instead. “We don’t believe the risk is worth the reward and encourage everyone to celebrate responsibly and go see a professional show,” he said of using sparklers at home.

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With all that said, if you feel comfortable safely using sparklers at home, we picked out a few options you can choose from, as well as a couple of safer ways for kids to enjoy the lights. So, let’s get patriotic with the sparkler (and sparkler alternatives) we picked out ahead.

Best 4th Of July Sparklers

Best (Safer) 4th Of July Sparkler Alternatives


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