Are fireworks too hot to handle for your kids?

Dad Days of Summer: While Momania’s Theresa Walsh Giarrusso takes a vacation, local dad and sportswriter Andy Johnston will be filling in. You can e-mail him at ajcmomania@gmail.com.

I don’t think a Fourth of July or New Year’s Eve passed without me, my brother, a cousin and a bunch of friends blowing up several dollars worth of fireworks.

Andy and his son Ty.

Andy and his son Ty.

We shot all kinds, from Roman candles to those little metal things that flew up in the air to the bigger tubes that produced pretty colors and gave the neighbors something to watch.

But bottle rockets were our favorite, mainly, I think, because we could aim them.

We knew the rules. You were supposed to stick them in the bottle, which was supposed to be aimed at the sky. You were to light the fuse and supposed to move a safe distance.

Not us.

We shot bottle rockets at everything.

Trees. Cars. Houses. Each other.

We didn’t even use the bottles.

We’d hold them in our hand and throw them as far as we could at whatever we were trying to hit.

Crazy and stupid, rolled into one, but boys will be boys, as they say.

I’m surprised none of my friends were hurt, since we were the target age for fireworks-related injuries.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) said that two of five (39 percent) victims of fireworks injuries in 2009 were under the age of 15. The highest risk of injury was for children ages 10 to 14. Here is some info about fireworks – did you know they can reach 1,200 degrees – and this website is for the kids.

At 5, Ty still covers his ears when fireworks are booming, so I figure that’s something we’ll have to deal with in a few years.

Do you let your kids shoot fireworks?

If so, are they unsupervised or do you watch what they’re doing?

At what age do you think it’s OK for kids to shoot fireworks?

- By Andy Johnston, for the Momania blog

62 comments Add your comment

jarvis

June 30th, 2011
1:06 am

I haven’t gotten any for my kids mostly because I know what I used to do with them. In addition to throwing them like Andy, we used to break the sticks off of them and then light them. Bottle rockets without sticks fly completely unpredictably.

Good times!

This is filed under the ever-growing do as I say not as I do section of my fathering library.

djm_NC

June 30th, 2011
5:49 am

we all used to do the same thing. im sure my kids did too when i wasnt around. i do know 2 who got hurt..one badly-lost 3 fingers. as many of us who did this im surprised more didnt get hurt. my kids do know the guy who got his 3 fingers blown off-so hopefully that made them think more-but really kids think it will never happen to them. i dont think you lose that mentality until you have your own kids…we also used to shoot each other with b b guns…a friend of mine lost one eye doing that. geeze-the things we did im surprised any of us are alive!

djm_NC

June 30th, 2011
5:52 am

and like jarvis i never gave my kids any kind of fire works…even fire crackers..we used to have fire cracker wars–throwing them at the other side etc….im sure they got them anyway. all yhou can do is tell them true reasons as to why they cant do them. and not let them. but as i said-most kids are gonna do things anyway when mom isnt looking. im glad my kids lived thru their kid craziness.

shaggy

June 30th, 2011
6:31 am

OK, I must confess to pyromania, except with a twist, and once again I must ask myself, “How did I make it to adulthood?”

Bottle rockets and small firecrackers are boring after a short while to a teenage boy. My friends and I regularly had pine cone battles, or just about anything you could throw, battles. It was an organic move for us to escalate into bottle rocket battles, yes, moms, we shot these AT one another. That is not really so unusual, at least in a young boy’s mind. In any case, we were disappointed with our accuracy. Being good, inventive American boys, we siezed on a simple way to improve accuracy expoentially – we acquired (read stole) appropriate lengths of PVC pipe, and glued makeshift pistol-grip handles on the tubes. The increase in accuracy was remarkable. You could lead-aim while the fuse burnt, and -ZOOM- hit a running 13 year old boy right smack in the back of the head. If you were really good at this technique, you could time the burst to go right at impact, which did cause a few “problems”. We went on like that for exactly one “battle” that resulted in some parent-suspicious wounding and subsequent kid interogation. Phone lines came alive and parent death threats were made to all of us. “IF YOU KILL YOURSELF, I’M GONNA KILL YOU!” was one of the more confusing but memorable parent quotes.
Between us kids, it was agreed that for all of the pain we received for doing this, it was worth it. We still talk about that battle to this day.
DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME.
Happy Fourth of July!

shaggy

June 30th, 2011
6:33 am

OK Andy. I had a post disappear. Nothng bad, and I am certainly not going to rewrite it.

homeschooler

June 30th, 2011
7:54 am

It’s nice for me to see that other boys did this. My husband and his brother talk about their fireworks wars and I thought they were the only ones crazy enough to do this. (maybe he is normal after all). Kind of like when I learned that other men (not just my husband) actually pull over and pee behind buildings or on the side of the road.

I was raised with one sister, a cautious mom and a dad who traveled (and died when I was 15). I just don’t know boys. I used to think my husband was so WEIRD.

Then, my first child was a boy. And he was a cautious, scared of everything, boy. He held his ears during fireworks, while watching the Blue Angels and if anyone walked by him with a balloon. We were patient and didn’t force him out of his little fears but it drove us both a little crazy. (Especially my “all boy” husband”).

Well I’m happy, I guess, to say that one of his favorite past times (at age 10)is to see what he can do with bottle rockets. He ties things to the end of the sticks, aims them at matchbox cars, etc. Luckily he is still a bit cautious and afraid of getting hurt, so he uses a long, grill type lighter and runs like hell behind something when they are going off. Everything in my girl/mom mind says not to let him do this but it is such a huge step for him into boydom that I can’t bring myself to stop him.

This falls under the umbrella of “afraid everyone will think I’m a horrible mom if he gets hurt”. Kind of like when I finally gave in and got him a walker as a baby and a trampoline a few yrs ago. Yes, I am ignoring ALL the experts.

Now let me say further, I also work for DFCS, so I investigate neglectful parents and I not only know about all the horrible things that can happen to kids but I’ve seen them first hand.

My life is a daily struggle to fight the urges to protect my children from all of the bad things that MIGHT happen. But, “might” is the key word. My son “might” have gotten molested in that first restaurant bathroom I let him go in by himself when he was 8. But he said he felt to big for the girl bathroom. How do you say “no” to that. He might get hurt using fireworks (and the ER might call DFCS on me). I just try to be as safe as possible while still letting him be who he is trying to grow up to be.
God, it’s hard sometimes.
But, I will always supervise him with the fireworks and will never let him aim them at his friends. Not that his friend’s parents would ever allow them to touch fireworks….EVER!

shaggy

June 30th, 2011
8:09 am

Andy! Would you please look for my disappearing post?

Lori

June 30th, 2011
8:25 am

Well, considering that most fireworks are illegal in Georgia, no I don’t plan to use any this year. I’ve given my son a sparkler before to hold but only with direct supervision to be sure he didn’t touch the hot part. He didn’t really like it though. He also doesn’t really like the loud noises, so he isn’t interested at all when the neighbors are out shooting stuff off. He likes to watch from inside the house, which is fine with me!

motherjanegoose

June 30th, 2011
8:45 am

We are not a fireworks shooting family. I never did it growing up. I think my husband’s family did but he has never expressed any interest to do it in all the years we have been married. We have had sparklers a few times but that is it.

FYI…even roasting marshmallows CAN be dangerous. As a young girl, we were on a picnic and doing so. Another kid took his stick and touched the top of my foot. Ouch.

JJ

June 30th, 2011
8:48 am

Oh what fun times we used to have with firecrackers. Growing up with boys (or play dolls in the house with girls – NO THANKS), I have many fond memories of firecracker wars…….

I love fireworks. My dogs hate them. I can’t go anywhere becuase I need to stay home with them, so they don’t destroy my home, yard, car, furniture, deck, etc…LOL. I’ve tried doggie Xanax, benedryl, etc NOTHING stops my Yellow Lab from freaking, not even at 12 years of age……I can’t put her in the back yard, she will jump the fence, or tunnel out. So I have to take them out on leashes in the front yard, and just let them freak.

We can see Sugar Hill’s fireworks from our ‘hood, and a few neighbors will light the pansy ones Georgia will allow. We may road trip to SC and buy some REAL fireworks, but that’s still open for discussion with the neighbors…..The boy next door ususally has an arsenol. His dad travels so he picks them up and brings them home, but we don’t know if he will be here this weekend. Oh well, at least we have a party planned, and some serious grilling on the menu.

On a sad note, my father passed away on July 4th. We sent him out with a bang!!!!!!

homeschooler

June 30th, 2011
8:51 am

Oh, yeah. I think I’ve heard that they are illegal in Georgia. (note the sarcasm). In my 37 yrs in GA, I’ve never seen someone get so much as a warning for using fireworks. In fact, the biggest “home” fireworks display I ever attended was at the home of an Atlanta police officer. Probably they need to take that law off the books if they are not going to enforce it.

IG2BAFG

June 30th, 2011
9:14 am

Call me overly paranoid or blame my career in risk mitigation, but I leave all fireworks to the professionals. Too many dry lawns in my neighborhood and I’ve seen too many of those things still slightly glowing when they hit roofs. Also, I know how much my dog hates the loud noises, I don’t want to do that to my neighbors and their pets.

Lori

June 30th, 2011
9:20 am

Oh, gosh, don’t remind me about the dog!! My neighbors are big on the fireworks & my poor dog will literally be climbing up the walls!! I’ll have to repaint!!

Techmom

June 30th, 2011
9:25 am

My son just had one of those “bottle rocket incidents” a couple of months ago. I am typically not the over-protective parent so when my son and his friend wanted to stop at the fireworks place on the way home from spring break, I didn’t really think about it. I didn’t buy any b/c I think they’re a waste of money so they each bought about $10 worth with their own money and we were on our way. The rule was no shooting them off toward the houses or each other. A couple of weeks later they were down at the other boys’ lake house and low and behold, a bottle rocket war started. The bottle rocket didn’t actually fly at my son but rather as he was holding it, an ember shot out of the bottom and hit him in the face, on the eyelid to be exact. Quick reactions saved his eye. He shut it and the ember singed his eyelashes and the skin on his eyelid and just beneath. It was swollen but he said he could see fine. I was worried about infection so I did take him to the doctor who confirmed no internal or eye damage (THANK GOD).

I’ve made him tell every single one of his friends what happened and why they shouldn’t be shooting fireworks at each other. Idiots.

Sparklers aren’t that safe either. My suggestion to all parents who let their kids hold them is to light them and then hand them over. Do NOT light them in your child’s hand. A few years ago I went to light one and it flared up and literally melted the skin off my finger. And burns are the worst.

Andy Johnston

June 30th, 2011
9:28 am

We had a blast with our fireworks battles and were fortunate that none of us were hurt. I agree with Jarvis, who said this is a part of his “Do as I say, not as I do (or did)” library.

Shaggy: I’ll alert the techs to look into your disappearing posts.

Call it like it is

June 30th, 2011
9:31 am

Heck yeah, I let my kid shoot them. Like with anything else use common sense. I’m out there watching, if the kids do something foolish, its game over. People you cant regulate everything in life. Isnt it amazing that most of us on this board didnt grow up in with child proof locks, car seats, child proof caps, yet here we are.

Live life, have fun, and have a great 4th!

motherjanegoose

June 30th, 2011
9:59 am

@ Call….YES, we are here because the folks that did not make it cannot post!

While it IS true that you cannot regulate everything in life …some things ( to me) start out being more dangerous than others. Getting hooked by a fishing line is not the same as the danger of fireworks.

We ate bologna sandwiches, with mayonnaise, that sat in room temp. lunch boxes for hours. Anyone up for it today?

Would I let a 4 year old “drive the car” on my lap and in my neighborhood…probably…would I let one ride their bike all over our neighborhood alone…NO.

At five, I walked 4 blocks ALONE to catch the bus in Chicago for Kindergarten…that was almost 47 years ago. I walked my kids a block to the bus for Kindergarten in Gwinnett…that was 14 and 19 years ago. Some parents drive their kids to school.

I drove a rickety old station wagon through the Ozark hills back and forth from HS and college, with no cell phone. My kids would not be doing the same.

Yes, kids need to learn cause and effect but I am not sure fireworks is the venue.

JATL

June 30th, 2011
10:32 am

Forget the kids! My husband and a friend of ours are such pyros it’s amazing noone has been injured or killed from their handling of fireworks -and we won’t even get into the year they doused their own, self-made Burning Man with lighter fluid in our pine straw carpeted back yard…

I’m sure as they age hubby will teach our two all sorts of awful tricks with firecrackers, bottle rockets and roman candles, but for now we’re sticking to sparklers -although we have some good fireworks to set off this weekend, and the boys can watch. Happy 4th!

JATL

June 30th, 2011
10:36 am

Sorry for the “noone.” Dang iPhone!

Beth

June 30th, 2011
10:36 am

My brother-in-law bought a bunch of fireworks one year for new year’s eve. Funniest one was the cannon that rolled across the deck when lit, fell off, and went into oblivion. Don’t knowif the darned thing ever went off. Laughed myself silly.

homeschooler

June 30th, 2011
10:37 am

I believe, by letting my child (at almost 11) use something that is a bit dangerous, I am telling him “I trust you, I know you can handle this because you are smart and not reckless. I will be right here in case you do something really stupid. If I see you being irresponsible you will not be trusted to do this.” He also shoots a bb gun and handles it as if it were a real gun with real bullets. Someday, when he is older, my husband will teach him to shoot a pistol and a rifle. I want him to understand the dangers and sometimes you have to be exposed to them to fully understand. Kids who are just told, no, no no you can’t play with that or touch that, and only get exposure through T.V and video games get a warped sense of reality. Those are the ones who get hurt. And I’m not one to think that “just because I did it, it’s okay”. I just have to weigh the pros and cons of certain activities. I thought a walker gave my 1 yr old more independence around the house, so I chose to purchase one, despite the dangers and I made sure it was never around stairs. I read all the dangers on trampolines but we decided to install a ground level one because the kids were doing so well at gymnastics we knew they would get a lot of excersise and fun from it. I would never put my child in a car without being properly restrained just because “my mother never put me in a seat” because we know better now and, there is no benefit to NOT having a child properly restrained.
I totally understand that fireworks are an extreme on the “what should we let our kids do, issue”. And I must say that I do not live in a subdivision but on 15 acres of land, so I may not let my child use them if I was concerned about burning a neighbors house down.

JATL

June 30th, 2011
10:46 am

@shaggy -fantastic! The PVC pipe invention sounds pretty great and like something I would gave loved! I think you and my husband would get along really well and be really dangerous!

@homeschooler – good for you! Our kids are put in far more danger in our cars everyday!

JJ

June 30th, 2011
10:58 am

Yet another humorous post by Shaggy!!!!!

newblogger

June 30th, 2011
11:09 am

I’m with JATL-I worry more about my husband and older son than my younger. My husband is the worst! He loves all kinds of fireworks and has set them off with our boys every year (New Year’s too-or any time he wants to scare the bejeezers out of us). I grew up doing this with all of my cousins at my Grandmother’s house. Of course, she lived out in the country and this was in the seventies, but we had so much fun. We had every kind you can imagine and what we wouldn’t light, our dad’s did for us. There was one time when the bottle fell over and chased all of the mom’s off the porch. They laughed eventually. I think with fireworks, as with anything, if you make it taboo it’s just that much more interesting. With supervision and common sense it can be the making of fun memories.

HB

June 30th, 2011
11:10 am

“And I must say that I do not live in a subdivision but on 15 acres of land, so I may not let my child use them if I was concerned about burning a neighbors house down.”

Yeah, I think this is important. Growing up, we only had fireworks out at the farm. Children had to stand far back from bottle rockets. We were allowed to hold sparklers, but there were always a few buckets of sand around that we knew to put them into when they burned out. Here in DC, though, EVERYONE shoots off fireworks all over the city! People stop traffic to shoot them off in the middle of the street. They light them with small children by their side next to busy sidewalks. They shoot off big ones in tiny parks between apartment buildings. Completely stupid and dangerous.

motherjanegoose

June 30th, 2011
11:29 am

I am all about roasting marshmallows but wanted to point out that danger can lurk in every corner
( even silly things). As parents we need to keep an eye on things. I am NOT paranoid. Sorry if this came across as such.

Many times, we act like things are no big deal…until an accident happens. Each parent here has a different tolerance level and we generally try to do what we think is best. We all bring a different set of expectations and experiences to the table. My kids went to a week of sleepover camp, without our family, when they were seven. Some folks here would not do it. Choices we make.

ManOfTeal

June 30th, 2011
11:29 am

We are having our own fireworks show at my parent’s house and then going to watch the BIG neighborhood show. I love fireworks. I did some crazy things with them growing up, note I said crazy, not stupid, there is a difference.

shaggy

June 30th, 2011
11:33 am

Heck, back in the day, we had access to M-80s, which were like mini-dynamite. Those really were dangerous, even in adult hands. Yet, we blew up several trees, small outbuildings, and I remember a junk car the became much “junkier” after we were done.
My older brothers, also waged adolescent war with real cherry bombs…the kind of cherry bombs that would blow under water. I remember one brother mysteriously staying home from school for a week after trying to unclog a few (all) of the high school commodes, the easy, quick way. He always was trying to be “helpful” to the school administration. For some reason, those had been banned by the time my inner demolitions expert had awoken as a boy.

ManOfTeal

June 30th, 2011
11:39 am

@Shaggy

I think they still make M-80s I swear my brother threw some in the cart this past weekend on our yearly fireworks buying trip in Alabama.

My kids are too young to play with anything that goes boom. But they will run around with sparklers and throw those little white poppers at each other.

My favorites are the colored smoke balls…..I love throwing a bunch of them down the sewer and watching the colored smoke spew out……that and they set things on fire, which is way cool as long as you don’t let it get out of control.

With fireworks, as with anything else, use common sense and you’ll be fine.

shaggy

June 30th, 2011
11:41 am

JATL – It’s not all a guy thing. My wife LOVES to blow stuff up. It is so cute to see her tying bottle rocket fuses together…lighter at the ready. My boy and I have had to quick dodge a few of her “special” bottles. But, she leaves the heavy artillery to the experts…us.

shaggy

June 30th, 2011
11:44 am

ManOfTeal – Nope, those are M-80s in name only. They are more like a blackcat with a little more pop. Real M-80 go BOOOOOOM! like the charges mixed into professionsl shows to go BOOOOOM!.

MomsRule

June 30th, 2011
11:45 am

We let our boys set off fireworks – supervised only.

When I was in high school…a boy I knew thought it would be fun to shoot a bottle rocket into his mother’s toilet. It made a really cool gurgling sound, grey smoke and bubbles rose to the surface. Long silence…one very loud final gurgle…and then a splash…as the bottom of the toilet hit the floor.

….I never did learn how he explained that to his mother.

Back when I was in college...

June 30th, 2011
11:45 am

…, small school in North Carolina back in the old days (1971-75), when cherry bombs and M80’s were still available, I set off one in my dorm hall during finals week – just wanted to add some spice to an otherwise dull study time.

Only problem was, I had no idea how strong the blast would be – I just lit the thing and threw it into the hall and closed my door to await impact. I hear the BOOM, then the next thing we all hear is the sound of glass shattering from a light fixture 12 feet above the floor as it hits the floor with glass flying everywhere. Luckily, no one walked into the hall prior to the boom, and no one was hurt – and to this day, no one knows who the knucklhead was that set the thing off…

shaggy

June 30th, 2011
11:54 am

JJ – Thanks, but I got to hand it to Andy, his blog topics of late have mostly hit home with my experiences.
It must be the dawg in him. WOOF! WOOF! WOOF!

JJ

June 30th, 2011
12:05 pm

Back in the day, we would go to the University of Colorado football field, Folsom Field, on the 4th of July for their fireworks display. I remember, as we walked into the stands, they would hand each and every one of us, children included, 1 stick match (the kind you could strike on concrete and it would light). At a certain point during the festivities, we were all told to light our matches and hold them up. It was SO BEAUTIFUL to see that stadium all lite up. Then they would shoot off the fireworks. memories…..

The City of Sugar Hill does a great Fireworks Display!!!! But my all time favorite is Stone Mountain’s. They rock!!!! LOL pun intended.

Kar

June 30th, 2011
12:29 pm

I was severely burned by a sparkler when I was about three. My aunt gave me and I was intrigued by the sputtering sound to I put it in my ear to here it better. Needless to say it ended with a trip the ER and an almost prostate aunt.

No damage to my hearing but not the best Fourth that I can remember.

Kar

June 30th, 2011
12:38 pm

PROSTATE aunt? That would’ve been memoriable. I meant prostRate aunt.

careylenn

June 30th, 2011
1:05 pm

As a kid my blessed mother let us have bottle rocket wars in her front yard….the parents would line the cars along the curb….half of us would huddle behind the cars and half of us would shoot out the windows along our ranch style house.

One year I set fire to the vinyl Landau roof of my dad’s brand new Buick LeSabre…That was the same year my brothers snuck up behind us in the house and set off a string of firecrackers in my bedroom.

I still hand launch the occasional bottle rocket….loads of fun!

JATL

June 30th, 2011
2:05 pm

@shaggy-oh, I love firecrackers and fireworks (and just fire) too! I will draw the line or become the debbie downer voice of reason when objects are catching fire that are sure to bring some authority and flashing lights around! As a kid, I would have loved your pvc pipe invention and I know exactly which two neighbor kids would’ve gotten it!

catlady

June 30th, 2011
2:37 pm

Please, please don’t let Theresa see this thread!

No fireworks here. I was raised going to public displays, but I hated them, too. (I lost some hearing when a kid put an air rifle in my ear and fired, and later my house was struck by lightning 4 feet from where I stood and changed the beat of my heart, in addition to adding to my deafness. I am not even a fan of the “Big Bang Theory!) I was allowed to fire up a sparkler or two, under supervision. So were my kids. The girls seem to like the public displays. The boy–God knows what he does, but I am pretty sure it is dangerous!

My former husband was from a fireworks (M80) kind of family. Once we divorced I think he went back to “celebrating” like that. My neighbor, who is likely to spend a quiet, relaxing Sunday evening firing off a few hundred rounds from his guns, shoots off fireworks over the pasture. I am fully expecting one July 4 or New Years that he will set the pasture or the woods on fire.

catlady

June 30th, 2011
2:43 pm

lost comment

Wayne

June 30th, 2011
2:48 pm

Yeah, I was into fireworks when I was a kid. We used to put on a show in my neighborhood. Of course, being the inquisitive person that I was, I also used to take shotgun shells apart and do some cool things with gun powder and oil. Don’t even get me started with the copper pipe. I remember one time we stuck one of these pipe bombs – which now, at my almost 50 years of age,realize could have killed me or someone else, in a tree. Just to see what happens. We would pack the powder into it, melt wax over it, put some bb’s into that (Oy, can you say stupid?) and light it. Came back a few days later – no tree. It burned downed.

Oh man, good times at the time, but wow, we are so lucky we didn’t lose life and limb.

Oh, there you are Perry!

June 30th, 2011
3:40 pm

I lost a lot of money due to fireworks! I grew out of Star Wars action figures (the originals) at the same time I grew into fireworks! The money that went up in smoke!!!!

But bottle rocket battles were a blast. no pun intended.

Baltisraul

June 30th, 2011
7:32 pm

Of course I let them shoot fireworks. How else are they going to be able to teach their children when the time is right. What a stupid question!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

spacecapt

June 30th, 2011
9:14 pm

Fireworks? Out here in the sticks we shoot our firesticks with tracers.. kids have been doing it since they were 10. If you are in Gordon County this 4th and hear a boom it will be my Black Powder Rifle with 80 grams going off. God Bless The USA on the 4th of July.

spacecapt

June 30th, 2011
9:14 pm

Enter your comments here

[...] enjoyed writing about shooting bottle rockets at my friends in a previous blog – and reading about your creativity with explosives — and that was an important part of my [...]

sharon of Atlanta

July 1st, 2011
1:32 pm

It’s never OK for anyone to shoot fireworks but professionals. That’s what I tell my 3 wild sons, and I’m sticking to it!

[...]  Read the full blog [...]

ain't you from here?

July 1st, 2011
10:48 pm

I allow my 6 year old to shoot off fireworks, but never in the house and only if they are aimed at the neighbor’s dogs.

But sometimes he has too much beer and he can’t hit them dogs for nothing.