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 six times hotter than oil in a frying pan.

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

Top 10 sparkler safety tips

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

Why can’t under-fives 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 five years, RoSPA says, over 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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