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Ask the Expert:

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ Ruta M. Pakalns, M.D.
Ruta M. Pakalns, M.D.
Family Physician
Sees patients at Marshfield Clinic Wisconsin Rapids Center.

​Question: Are sparklers safe to use? What about fireworks?​

Using sparklers on the July 4th holiday, and other special events, is as traditional as cookouts.

But sparklers burn at 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit or higher and can easily burn hands and legs, cause eye injuries or possible blindness.

Children under the age of 12 should not use sparklers without very close adult supervision.

The National Fireworks Safety Council offers these safety tips to prevent sparkler injuries:

  • Light only one sparkler at a time
  • Don’t hand a lighted sparkler to another person. Instead, hand over an unlit sparkler and then light it
  • Try to stand six feet away from others while using sparklers
  • Never throw a lit sparkler
  • Remain standing while using sparklers, hold them at arm’s length, and never run while holding them
  • Don’t hold a child in your arms while using sparklers
  • Wear closed-toe shoes to prevent foot burns
  • Drop spent sparklers in a bucket of water because they can remain hot long after the flame has gone out

Sparklers are one thing, but other consumer fireworks are quite another matter.

As a physician, I do not recommend the use of firecrackers or other devices that explode.

If you must use them, buy only consumer-grade fireworks from a licensed store, tent or stand.

Consumer fireworks are packaged in bright colors with safety warnings on the package.

Illegal explosives by contrast are often unpackaged or wrapped in plain brown paper without safety warnings. These devices go by names such as M-80, quarter stick or cherry bombs.

Professional fireworks are extremely powerful and dangerous. These fireworks carry a warning statement with a plain display that they are 1.3G professional fireworks. The only safe way to view them is at your community’s fireworks display.

When using consumer fireworks, never attempt to relight “duds” that have not exploded, because they can be unpredictable.

Have water handy to use in the event a fire starts, have a “designated shooter” who is not consuming alcohol, and keep spectators a safe distance from the shooter.


Marshfield Clinic provides Family Medicine​ in a number of our centers. Your primary care doctor can provide most of your health care needs and refer you to a specialist if needed.  ​​