LAURINBURG — Sparklers can be a fun way to light up warm summer nights. With their brilliance and glowing trails through the darkness, sparklers attract both children and adults on special occasions like Independence Day or during backyard barbecues or parties.
Even though sparklers can be fun, people who intend to use sparklers are urged to treat these devices with respect and caution. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that sparklers can burn at 2,000 F, which is as hot as a blow torch, and definitely hot enough to melt some metals. Sparklers are responsible for 9 percent of all fireworks burns and other injuries, warns the CPSC.
Sparklers are created by hardening flammable chemicals on the end of a wire or a wooden stick. Unlike other fireworks, sparklers burn slowly due to their chemical composition. This makes sparklers seemingly safer for youngsters to handle. But parents and other guardians may want to reconsider. Emergency rooms repeatedly treat burn injuries to hands and faces resulting from sparkler usage. Kids may be tempted to show sparklers off to their friends and then run and lose their balance or wave the sparkler around and not know others are close by.
When using sparklers, heed the following safety tips from the National Council on Fireworks Safety.
— Ensure that sparklers are legal where you live prior to purchase.
— Sparklers are best handled by people ages 12 and older. Children younger than 12 require extreme supervision.
— Everyone handling sparklers should wear closed-toe shoes, and not flip-flops or sandals, to protect their feet from sparks.
— Wear eye protection, such as safety goggles.
— Leather gloves or those lined with Kevlar can help protect hands against burns.
— Each person should have his or her own sparkler stick. Only light one at a time.
— Maintain a distance of six feet from one another while sparklers are blazing.
— Even though it can seem festive to wave a sparkler or make circles through the air, doing so increases the risk for injury.
— Remain in an upright position when holding a lit sparkler.
— Tossing or throwing the sparkler is extremely hazardous.
— Do not use sparklers (or other fireworks) while under the influence of alcohol.
— Sparkler sticks can remain hot long after the flame is extinguished. Keep a bucket of water nearby and dump some water on the sparkler after use.
More sparkler and firework safety information is available through the National Council on Fireworks Safety at www. fireworksafety.com.