Sparklers: how to keep your children safe

Here's all you need to know for sparklingly safe Bonfire Night fun

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Sparklers are a staple of every family Bonfire Night – and provide much of the most memorable magic for pint-sized fireworks fans.

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But all of us parents do need to bear in mind that sparklers always need handling very carefully. Why? Because they can get up to 6 times hotter than oil in a frying pan and 20 times hotter than boiling water.

With that in mind, we’ve pulled together some properly sparkling safety tips:

Top 10 sparkler safety tips

  1. Store sparklers and other fireworks in a closed box in a cool, dry place.
  2. Always supervise children using sparklers.
  3. Don’t give sparklers to a child under 5.
  4. Always light sparklers one at a time and, preferably, wear gloves.
  5. Show children how to hold sparklers: away from their body and at arm’s length.
  6. Teach children not to wave sparklers near anyone else or run while holding them.
  7. Never hold a sparkler yourself, if you’re also holding a baby in your arms.
  8. When a sparkler’s burnt out, plunge it, hot end down, into a bucket of water. Sparkler’s can stay hot for a long time.
  9. Don’t take sparklers to public displays. It will be too crowded to use them safely.
  10. Make sure your children aren’t wearing very loose, flowing clothes: in the unlikely event that things do turn dangerous, loose clothing is more likely to catch light.
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Why can’t under-5s have sparklers?

We know it sounds a bit boring and “health-and-safety-mad” but safety experts, like the folk at RoSPA, do all agree that children under five are unlikely to be able to understand how to use sparklers safety.

Over the past 5 years, RoSPA says, more than 350 pre-school children – some only a year old – were treated in hospital for fireworks injuries.

In the end, if it’s a toss-up between a couple of moments of extra pleasure and a huge increased risk of something nasty happening to a small child, we all know we’d choose the boring-but-safe option.

What do I do if my child gets burned by a sparkler?

Accidents do happen, of course. And the best thing, always, is to act quickly. Here’s what to do:

  • Cool the burn or scald by immersing it in cold water for at least 10 minutes (keep going even, if your child hates it).
  • Cut around material sticking to the skin. Do not try to pull it off.
  • Don’t touch the burn or burst any blisters.
  • Cover the burn with clean, non-fluffy material to prevent infection. Clingfilm is ideal.
  • If a child’s clothing has caught fire, get the child to stop and drop to the floor. Then roll them in heavy material, such a curtain, until the flame’s extinguished.
  • Get advice from your GP or, in the case of a real emergency, go to A&E.
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