7 Ways to Safely Celebrate July Fourth at Home With Kids

Learn how to protect your family from at-home pyrotechnics, plus discover alternate ways to have fun without fireworks.

Fourth of July celebrations typically include backyard grilling, outdoor activities, and sometimes even at-home pyrotechnics. Without the right precautions, however, families may conclude the day with a trip to the hospital for fireworks-related injuries.

In a new report, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) says there were an estimated 15,600 "fireworks-related, emergency department-treated" injuries in 2020, with children younger than 15 making up 18% of the injuries.

Young adults between 20 and 24 years old had the highest estimated rate of injuries (17 per 100,000 people), followed by teens between 15 and 19 years old (6.1 injuries per 100,000 people). And parents, take note: this includes sparklers! While seemingly harmless, sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees F—hot enough to melt some metals.

To prevent accidents, try finding alternate ways to celebrate the nation's birthday. Joy Altimare, chief brand and engagement officer at EHE Health, says to focus on enjoying quality time with the family. Consider some of these festive, child-friendly ways to celebrate Independence Day.

kids with sparklers around a firepit
Karen Hatch/Getty Images

Ways to Have Fun Without Fireworks

Bake a special Fourth of July treat, perhaps a red-white-and-blue cake decked out with blueberries, strawberries, and cool whip, or maybe even some patriotic cupcakes decorated with 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.

Have a "field day" with friends in a backyard or local park, suggests Altimare. Divide the teams into red, white, and blue (using colored tees) and compete in some summertime classics like water balloon tosses, obstacle courses, and egg races.

Have a backyard cook-out with kid favorites including hamburgers and hot dogs, or take 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 Fourth 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:

  • Prohibit young children from playing with or igniting fireworks, (even sparklers!)
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of emergency.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move away quickly.
  • Never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them in water and throw them away.
  • Don't 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 water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area, and only purchase ones that are labeled for consumer (not professional) use.
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