How Safe are Sparklers?

How Safe are Sparklers?



Many people don’t think of sparklers as a hazard, and readily hand them to children. In the states that permit their sale, sparklers and some other fireworks of comparable strength such as party poppers have been labeled “safe and sane” by their advocates. But the National Fire Protection Association flatly states:  “safe and sane” fireworks are neither.

Sparklers throw off showers of hot sparks, and their temperatures can exceed 1200º F. Sparklers caused 24% of hospital emergency room visits for fireworks-related injuries—the largest of any single type of fireworks.

“Children are getting burned with sparklers. Around the 4th of July is the busiest time for hospitals for children and burns, whether they are burns to the hands or whether they are stepping on the sparklers when they are still hot on the ground,” said Brian McQueen, Director of the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY) in a news report from WKTV following the recent legislation legalizing the use of sparklers and other Class C fireworks in New York.

Looking for a safer alternative? Get creative with these ideas for sparkless sparkler decorations.

Who Needs Injury Prevention Education? Everyone!

5th- and 6th-Graders at Hillel Community Day School learned about home safety to teach their schoolmates.
5th- and 6th-Graders at Hillel Community Day School learned about home safety to teach their schoolmates.

Sometimes when we at Prevention 1st explain our focus on home safety and injury prevention, we get a puzzled look that says: “Really?  Who needs that?”

Just a few of the requests for training we’ve received recently, which we meet as grants and underwriting become available, paint a picture of who needs injury prevention education:

  •  5th and 6th graders at Hillel Community Day School to teach Peer to Peer Home Safety Training;
  • At-risk youth, and the staff who work with them, at Hillside Family of Agencies;
  • Blind and visually impaired people from the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ABVI);
  • Foster parents, and the staff of Monroe County Foster Care;
  • Children and adults with developmental disabilities through the Arc of Monroe, Mary Cariola Children’s Center, and the Self-Advocacy Association of New York State (SANYS);
  • Social workers in the Rochester City School District, to learn how to use our program After the Fire: The Teachable Moment in classrooms where a child has experienced a fire;
  • Red Cross workers, who also use The Teachable Moment with the families they help following a fire;
  • Older adults, through the Greater Rochester Area Partnership for the Elderly (GRAPE);
  • Residents of low-income communities, through Habitat for Humanity.


Learn more about Prevention 1st‘s Programs.

Renaissance Academy Kids: We Will Play Safe!

Renaissance Academy_Group_ShotBob Crandall, Matt Sauers and Ken Schultz knew for sure they’d had a good day when they were presented with a thank-you card as they left Renaissance Academy Charter School of the Arts. In their card, the first-grade class of Mrs. King and Mrs. Washington assured the trainers: “We will play safe!”

They’d spent the day teaching every K-2 classroom not to touch matches and lighters, what to do when the smoke alarm goes off, and more. In the kindergarten and first grade classrooms, the children enjoyed playing the online game Help Mikey Make It Out. Trainers and teachers worked together to create a “make your own” smart board: as a child used the pointer to choose items projected at the front of the room, while the trainer pressed buttons on the projector to select them.

Renaissance Academy_CheckingtheDoorWith the second graders the trainers used the new fire sets, including doorway, window and meeting place, that Prevention 1st built thanks to a grant from the Ronald McDonald House Charities. The children learned to locate the ways out of a room, to respond right away if the smoke alarm goes off, check the door with the back of the hand before opening, and stay low if there is smoke.

Renaissance Academy_Be_Seen_At-Window
Students at Renaissance Academy practiced being visible to firefighters from the “window.”

They also learned what to do if they couldn’t go out by the door. The trainers positioned the fire set window and asked one child to be “inside” and make sure the firefighters outside would be able to see her.

“You’re the firefighters,” the children watching “outside” were told. “Can you see her?” As their classmate shouted and waved broadly, the answer was a resounding “Yes!” And the children learned exactly what they would need to do to let firefighters know where they are.

17 Quick, Easy, Inexpensive Ways to Stay Safe at Home

“Safe at home.” It’s how we feel when we close the door behind us at the end of a long day. But how often do we take a moment to make sure we truly are as safe as we feel in our own homes? Preventable injuries — including home fires and burns, household poisons, drowning and falls — are the leading cause of death for children, teens and young adults (you’ll be glad to know “young” means up to age 44). They’re one of the leading causes of death for older adults too. Let’s say you’re not afraid of dying. Why take the time to be safer?

  • You have better places to spend time than the emergency department. Injuries account for more than a third of all emergency department visits. The average wait time in EDs across the country is four hours and seven minutes, according to the engrossing reading of a recent Emergency Department Pulse Report. What would you rather do with those four hours?
  • Safer is cheaper. Injuries cost the nation $80 billion every year in medical costs alone. The estimated lifetime cost of injuries occurring in a single year in the U.S is more than $406 billion. No matter how good your health insurance is, an injury can take hundreds or thousands of dollars straight out of your pocket.
  • You want to get on with your life. A broken hip from a fall that could have been prevented may keep you from enjoying your normal activities for months. And do you really want to spend Rochester’s brief summer in the rehab center?

You say you just don’t have time to prevent injuries?  If you’ve got less than one minute to devote to safety, use it to:

  1. Wipe up a spill right away. Falls are the leading causeof nonfatal unintentional injuries for every age group, except 10 to 24 year olds—and for them it’s the second leading cause! Wiping up spills is one of several simple ways to prevent falls.
  2. Not leave a child alone near water (yes, even for less than a minute). Kids don’t drown only in pools. Bathtubs, buckets, toilets, and hot tubs can be drowning dangers as well.
  3. Test your smoke alarm to make sure it’s still working, and everyone in your household can hear it. Even alarms that are hard-wired or have long-life batteries need to be checked. You should have at least one working smoke alarm on each floor, and one inside every sleeping area is best. Consider having both ionization and photoelectric alarms, or dual alarms that incorporate both technologies. Ionization smoke alarms respond best to flaming fires, and photoelectric to smoldering fires.
  4. Put away matches or lighters in a high cabinet or locked drawer, out of sight and reach of children. Children playing with fire is a leading cause of fire deaths for children under age 5.
  5. Turn off portable space heaters when you leave the room or go to sleep. Space heaters are involved in 32% of heating fires but cause 82% of associated deaths and 64% of injuries.
  6. Adjust the thermostat on your water heater to keep hot water less than 120°F, to prevent scalds.
  7. Turn off the stove if you have to leave the kitchen while cooking. Unattended equipment is the #1 contributing factor in cooking fire deaths.
  8. Put on your glasses and read the fine print on that medicine bottleUnintentional poisonings have risen steadily since 1992, and for people 35 to 54 years old, they’re causing more deaths than motor vehicle crashes. Know how much, and how often, you can safely take any medication whether prescription or over-the-counter, as well as possible interactions with other drugs.
  9. Keep the metal mesh screen of your fireplace closed, but leave glass doors open while burning a fire. The U.S. Fire Administration says leaving the doors open gives the fire enough air and keeps creosote from building up in the chimney. The screen helps keep embers from getting out of the fireplace. Close the glass doors when the fire is out to keep air from the chimney from getting into the room.

If you can find just a few minutes use them to:

  1. Put away household cleaners and medications in a place that’s out of sight and reach of children.
  2. Clear clutter from hallways and exits to prevent tripping.
  3. Install handrails on stairs and adequate lighting at the top and bottom of the stairs. Leading causes of adult injuries include falls from stairs, steps and ladders.
  4. Use this fire safety checklist to check your home for hazards.
  5. Call to schedule an annual chimney cleaning.
  6. Play Help Mikey Make It Out with your kids. This fun, interactive game at teaches life-saving home escape lessons.
  7. Plan and practice your home escape. Working smoke alarms and CO detectors save lives, but does everyone in your home know what to do when they sound–especially in the middle of the night? Does everyone know your meeting place outside, where you can find each other and firefighters can find you? Visit
  8. Check the manufacturers instructions to see if you should replace your CO detector. New York State law requires CO detectors to be installed in all new and existing homes having any fuel-burning appliance or attached garage. But you need a  new detector every two to 10 years, depending on the model. Carbon monoxide kills in minutes, and unlike smoke from a fire it’s colorless, tasteless and odorless. It can be created by open flames, space heaters, water heaters, blocked chimneys or running a car inside a garage (even with the door open). If you have only one carbon monoxide detector, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends it be located near the sleeping area, where it can wake you.

Why Are Children Fascinated With Fire?

by Robert E. Cole, PhD, Robert E. Crandall and Carolyn E. Kourofsky

Download a printable pdf of this article here.


It’s the question we hear most often when parents, teachers and caregivers want to understand children’s fireplay: Why are children so fascinated with fire?

The fact is, not only children but adults find fire fascinating. Fire is colorful and dynamic. Its movement is gentle and soothing. It’s not surprising that fire captures our interest. From a child’s point of view, fire seems the perfect toy: colorful, animated, and responsive.

Fire is a familiar part of our culture. Through everyday use, it seems comforting, warm, and helpful. We have candles on our birthday cakes and on our dinner tables during holiday meals. Candles are a part of many religious ceremonies. Children see fire in fireplaces in winter, and campfires and barbecues in the summer.

Fire seems fragile. Most fires children see are small—candles, matches, lighters. They are easily extinguished with a puff of breath. Any child who watches an adult struggle to light the barbecue with old charcoal or start a campfire with damp wood can easily conclude that fire is hard to get started and easy to put out.

Typically, fireplay is not a sign of an emotional problem. Young children just don’t understand the consequences, and older children overestimate their ability to control fire. In research conducted in Rochester, New York, we found that 9 out of 10 children who started a fire that was reported to the fire department never started another. Once they see the consequences of their actions, the vast majority of children don’t do it again.

But children’s fireplay should be taken seriously. Even when started without any intention to do harm, fires set by children can cause serious damage and injury.

How you can reduce the likelihood of children playing with fire:

  • Keep matches and lighters out of sight and reach, even child-resistant lighters

Although child-resistant lighters are helpful, they only provide a temporary margin of safety. Given enough time, many children find ways to light them. Lighters of any sort should never be left out, and ideally should be kept in a locked drawer or cabinet.

  • Be aware of your own modeling of fire use

What you do can be more important than what you tell a child. Casual use of fire such as leaving a stove, campfire, grill or candles unattended, not only creates an immediate hazard but tells children that fire needn’t be treated seriously. Ignoring the smoke alarm, or going in search of the source of smoke instead of urging everyone to get out when the alarm sounds, sends a message that smoke and its cause isn’t serious.

  • Supervise children at home as well as outside.

Many adults assume children are safe when they are in their own bedrooms. In fact this is where most of the fires set by young children are started, often in closets.

Parents need to both monitor their children, and restrict access to ignition materials.

  • Stick to clear rules about fire.

Parents and caregivers must firmly state to children that matches and lighters are tools for adults only. Children should tell an adult if they find these materials left lying around.

It’s important that this rule be clear and consistent. Many children will assume that if they’re allowed to do something with adult supervision, it’s really all right for them to do the same thing when alone. Many cooking fires start this way.

Think about at what age you would consider someone responsible enough to babysit your children. Most people want a sitter who is older than elementary school age, because they want someone who can respond if something unexpected happens. Elementary school children are not good at anticipating what might go wrong and how to respond if something does, such as if grease from cooking catches on fire. The Babysitting Training Courses sanctioned by the American Red Cross and the National Safety Council are designed for 11-to-15-year-olds, setting a national standard concerning the age of responsibility. Learn more about when a child is ready to use the stove or oven here.

  • Install and maintain smoke alarms, and plan and practice your escape.

Information about why and how to plan and practice a home fire drill, as well as about smoke alarms, is available at

About the Authors

Robert Cole, Ph.D.  is a research psychologist and Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Rochester Medical Center School of Nursing, and one of the nation’s leading experts in fire safety education. Lt. Robert E. Crandall (Ret.) is a 30-year veteran of the Rochester Fire Department, where he helped develop the Adopt a School Program and was named Firefighter of the Year 2000. Carolyn E. Kourofsky is a freelance writer specializing in health and safety.

Learn more about how to:
Protect Your Family From Fire / Protege a su Familia de un Incendio
Protect Your Family From Scalds and Burns  / Protege a su Familia de Escaldaduras (Calentamiento) y Quemaduras

© Prevention 1st.

May be reprinted with copyright and contact information intact.

The Top 3 Causes of Scary Halloween ER Visits – And How to Prevent Them


Halloween frights should be fun, not painful. Avoiding a scary visit to the hospital is simple, but requires some forethought.

Here are the most common reasons kids visit the hospital on Halloween, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, and tips for avoiding the trip:


Pedestrian collisions with vehicles

    • A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children.
    • Use flashlights, and reflective tape on bags and costumes, to be more visible.
    • Avoid darting from house to house. Stay on the sidewalk and cross at corners. If there’ s no sidewalk, walk facing traffic.
    • If possible, choose hats and nontoxic makeup rather than masks, which can block a child’s vision (and yours if you’re the responsible adult!)

Eye injuries from sharp objects

    • Choose soft, flexible props when possible.
    • If a costume calls for swords, cane, or sticks, they should not be sharp, or too long (to avoid falls).

Burns from flammable costumes


Make sure costumes, wigs and accessories are made of flame-resistant materials.

  • Try a glow stick instead of a candle in jack o’lanterns.
  • Keep candlelit jack o’lanterns, and any candles, away from curtains and other flammable objects. Never leave them unattended.