Shannon Stacey

Have a happy (and safe) 4th of July

I’ll be signing off for a long weekend of family, friends, fun and four-wheeling, but first…let’s talk about sparklers.

Neither of my boys has ever played with a sparkler. I know. I’m a mean mom. An overprotective freak. Or any of the less pleasant names I’ve heard muttered about me when somebody asks if SK can have a sparkler and I say “I’d prefer he doesn’t, but thank you anyway”.

Two. Thousand. Degrees.

The average temperature of a sparkling sparkler is 1800 to 3000 degrees Fahrenheit, or 1000 to 1600 degrees Celsius. Two thousand degrees. How hot is that? While not as hot as an acetylene-fueled torch, it gives a propane-fueled flame a run for its money. That pan of boiling water we warn our children away from? A mere 212 degrees (F).

People can’t understand why I don’t let my sons play with sparklers. To be honest, I can’t understand how anybody can hand a group of small children sticks burning at 2000 degrees and laugh while they wave them around. We’ve watched campers set up a perimeter worthy of the Secret Service to keep a child away from the propane-fueled camp stove flame, then hand that child burning sparklers, one for each hand.

How do my kids feel about it? They each, at some point, asked for a sparkler. The words two, thousand and degrees pretty much cured them of any desire to touch them. I buy those glow-in-the-dark neon sticks and “jewelry”, instead, and SK has a great time. His lights come in neon colors and last a long time.

For the record, you can write your name against the dark sky with a glo-stick.

I know sparklers are as Fourth of July as cook-outs, fireworks and flags. I don’t lecture other parents or carry on about it. I just politely decline if they’re offered to my kids. They’re a staple of the American childhood. I get it. Really.

But please, please be careful.

Have a happy (and safe) Fourth of July if you’re a fellow American and just a great regular weekend if you’re not, and I’ll see you on Monday!

6 comments to “Have a happy (and safe) 4th of July”

  1. Charlene Teglia
      · July 2nd, 2010 at 12:15 pm · Link

    I beat you on the mean mom quotient. If it was up to me nobody would be able to buy fireworks; they’d be strictly limited to professionals who are trained to handle them. You’re dealing with frakking explosives! Every year there are fires and accidents. 4th of July is the worst holiday of the year, because of the fireworks.

  2. Shannon
      · July 2nd, 2010 at 12:37 pm · Link

    I admit there are some amateur fireworks involved in our Independence Day celebration, but they take precautions—such as having the sober people in charge *g*—and I control how and from where my kids watch.

    I think on July 3rd every year they should play a montage of past July 5th newscasts, highlighting the injuries and deaths that occur Every. Single. Year.

  3. chris
      · July 2nd, 2010 at 6:04 pm · Link

    Hi, I stopped to review your new book that is #1 on Barnes and Noble list for the week and thought I would comment on the sparklers.

    I don’t let my kids near them (they are 7 and 9). And I use to get the glares from all around. The glares stop when a few years back my 20yr. old niece lite one and it malfuntion and she had third degree burns on her hand. She is on my side when I shuffle my kids away and when someone glares she shows off her scar and says ” I was an adult” when this happened.

  4. cories
      · July 3rd, 2010 at 5:12 am · Link

    When I was young, I would watch the younger kids, especially the boys, like a hawk because they could not be trusted with anything remotely resembling fireworks (I was only 2-3 years older than they). You know those cracker things that makes noise if they throw them hard on the ground or step on them? That was pretty much it for us kids. When we were older (10+), some of us more responsible ones (mostly me) were allowed to hold the incense stick (because it was fairly long) to light the firecrackers. That was about it. I doubt I would let my little brother handle a sparkler even when he was 10 (he was notorious for his lack of common sense). Now I just watch the firework shows put on by professionals. I even helped a professional outfit with setting up fireworks before – a *very* safety conscious group of people.

  5. Jean
      · July 3rd, 2010 at 2:07 pm · Link

    We lived in states where personal purchasing of fireworks was illegal when I was a kid, so all we had were sparklers. I’ve never given them a moment’s thought — until you mention the 2000 degree thing. I can see why you decline.

    In Texas, of course, they have these huge fireworks stands in operation twice a year — 4th of July and New Years. I really don’t get it. You can only use whatever you buy in designated areas. Seems dumb to me.

    I’ve become more Scroogelike in my adult years and have no kids to worry about entertaining, so I tend not to give much attention to holiday celebrations. I did go out in my front yard last night and watch our town’s fireworks presentation. Had a nice talk with my neighbors who were watching in their front yard.

  6. Shannon
      · July 6th, 2010 at 12:28 pm · Link

    Chris, I’m sorry your niece was injured! Hopefully it’s kept a few kids from picking up sparklers.

    Cories, my younger son will be ten in November and I still don’t think I’d let him have a sparkler. Maybe when they graduate from high school we’ll have a sparkler party. Maybe. :lol:

    Jean, I think a lot of people don’t give them a moment’s thought. They’re a staple of the Fourth of July. I just wish more people would be aware of the fact that what they’re handing their child is a flash chemical fire.

    Doesn’t sound as fun that way, does it. Flash chemical fire. FUN! :lol:

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