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Playing With Fire Not for Kids

Do you let your kids use fireworks on the Fourth of July?

When I was growing up, the Fourth of July meant one thing – fireworks. And not the sanitized community fireworks show that we could see from afar.

The Fourth of July of my childhood meant hands-on firework experiences. We had fountains, spinning flowers, snakes, poppers, and my favorite, Catherine Wheels. And, of course, sparklers for everyone.

Lighting fireworks in the street was something we always looked forward to, but I seem to remember the bad firework incidents more than the good ones.

Like the year my younger sister inhaled so much smoke from being near the fireworks that she threw up in the street. Or the time one of the spinning flowers got airborne and landed on my friend’s wood shake roof, briefly catching it on fire.

Part of the fun of lighting fireworks is that they have that element of danger. The fire, the explosions, the popping and squealing sounds are all part of what makes lighting fireworks special.

But as a parent, is something that’s as inherently dangerous as fireworks something I should introduce to my kids?

Fireworks are illegal in most cities, including Napa.  Do I want my children to think that we get to pick and choose what laws we follow?

Or, by not letting them use fireworks, am I depriving them of one of the traditional joys of American childhood?

We always attend a family party out of town on the Fourth of July, and when the kids were little, we’d let them play with sparklers. And up until a few years ago, we’d enjoy a big neighborhood fireworks display in the street.

But then we had to explain to our kids why the police kept showing up. And it didn’t seem like such a great idea anymore.

Child safety groups like Pyrotechnic Safety for Kids and  and consumer groups like the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission are consistent in the message that young children should not use fireworks, even sparklers. I’m a rule-follower, and don’t like to break the law and ignore the recommendations of experts.

I think we’ll be skipping the sparklers this year.

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