Social distancing will have everyone celebrating at home this Fourth of July so fireworks safety is more important than ever. Learn how to protect your family, plus discover alternate ways to have fun without fireworks.
kids with sparklers around a firepit
Credit: Karen Hatch/Getty Images

This year, the Fourth of July celebrations will be different from years past, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). With social distancing restrictions still in place to help stop the spread of COVID-19, many families will be celebrating at home, including planning residential pyrotechnics.

Although family celebrations usually focus on backyard grilling and outdoor fun, too often, they can end up with a trip to the hospital for fireworks-related injuries. In a new report, the CPSC says there were an estimated 10,000 fireworks-related, emergency department-treated injuries in 2019, with children younger than 15 making up 36 percent of the injuries.

Children 4 and under had the highest estimated rate of emergency department-treated, fireworks-related injuries (5.3 injuries per 100,000 people), including injuries from sparklers. And parents, take note: Sparklers, while seemingly innocuous, burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees F—hot enough to melt some metals!

The best way to prevent accidents is to find alternate ways to celebrate the Nation's birthday. Joy Altimare, chief brand and engagement officer at EHE Health, says to start the holiday by focusing on the family and enjoying time together. Consider one or all of these festive, kid-safe ideas to celebrate Independence Day.

Ways to Have Fun Without Fireworks

Bake a special Fourth of July treat such as a red-white-and-blue cake decked out with blueberries, strawberries, and cool whip, or deck out some crazy cupcakes with patriotically colored sweet snacks such as Red Vines, mini marshmallows, and blue raspberry SourPunch straws.

Decorate the house with red, white and blue streamers and balloons and let the kids have a dance party or make some patriotic crafts such as firework Tie-dye shirts or themed sidewalk chalk art.

Socially distance with friends in a backyard or local park with a "field day," suggests Altimare. Divide the teams into red, white, and blue (use colored tees with the family name on the back) and compete in some summertime favorites like a water balloon toss, obstacle course, and egg races.

Have a backyard cook-out with kid favorites including hamburgers and hot dogs, or kick it up a notch with grown up treats like Truffle Shuffle grilled corn on the cob. Don't forget the firecracker popsicles!

Deck out the kids with glow-in-the-dark bracelets and host a safely distanced neighborhood back/front yard nighttime movie screening. Choose a favorite kid-friendly movie and set up a screen and projector outdoors. Invite friends and neighbors to set up chairs and blankets, at a safe distance, to watch with you (or project a movie on a wall inside the house if you don't have a yard). A few holiday-approved options: Captain America, The Music Man, An American Tail, and Hamilton, which premiers on Disney on July 3.

Watch streams of live fireworks shown from the National Mall (PBS) or the Macy's 4th of July from New York (NBC), or choose some videos from YouTube so little kids can watch the show early. You can even pick shows from favorite destinations like Disney World.

Sleep under the stars. Top off the day with backyard camping and old-fashioned s'mores for a festive, family-filled, and very safe, Fourth of July celebration.

Fireworks Safety Tips

If you do choose to legally light fireworks, be sure to follow these CPSC's July Fourth advice:

  • Never allow young children to play with, or ignite, fireworks, including sparklers.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy, in case of fire or other mishap.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move away quickly.
  • Never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them with water and throw them away.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse.
  • Never point or throw fireworks (including sparklers) at anyone.
  • After fireworks finish burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding the device to prevent a trash fire.
  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area, and only purchase fireworks that are labeled for consumer (not professional) use.