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Teens and Fireworks Safety: An Important July 4th Discussion

Jul 01, 2019

At this time of year, we get a lot of questions from parents who want to know how to talk to their teens about fireworks.

These parents know that fireworks are unsafe and can lead to severe injuries or costly property damage but they often don’t know how to get their kids to understand the serious risks involved. Here are some tips for how to get that conversation started.

Talk About the Risks

Start with the basics. Talk to them about what makes fireworks dangerous and what can happen when things don’t go as planned. Remind them that every person who has been injured by a firework probably thought that it would never happen to them.

Some of the risks include:

  • There is no such thing as a safe firework.
    • Every type of consumer firework available has been associated with serious injuries such as eye damage, finger loss, third-degree burns and more. And yes, this is true even for things like sparklers, bottlerockets and roman candles.
  • Things can go wrong. Fireworks can go off unexpectedly or land where you didn’t intend – like on a neighbor’s house or towards a group of people.
  • Property damage from fires can cost a lot of money to fix. Where will this money come from?
  • It is illegal.
    • Setting off fireworks can have legal ramifications. In Ohio, without a license, it is a 1st-degree misdemeanor and can come with a $1000 fine and up to six months in jail.

Help Them Find Other Options

Think together about other ways they can enjoy fireworks. For example, find a list of places they can go with their friends to watch a professional fireworks display. Or invite their friends to come over, order pizza, put on their favorite music and watch fireworks displays from around the country on television. See if they can come up with other fun, but safe, ideas.


Go through some different scenarios with them and have them practice what they will say and do. Many teens will go along with their friends even if they know they shouldn’t because they don’t know how to get out of the situation without looking bad. Practicing with them ahead of time will give them the words and the confidence to know how to handle the situation. 

Some examples could include:

  • What would you say if your friends say they want to go buy fireworks?
  • What would you do if one of your friends has fireworks and wants to have a “fireworks war” where they shoot roman candles at other people or at cars?
  • What would you do if you were at a friend’s house and the parents were setting off fireworks?

We know that kids are impulsive and don’t always think ahead. By having a conversation with them before they are in the situation, you can give them the tools to help them make the safer choice.

Wishing you and your family a safe and happy Fourth of July!

For more information on fireworks safety from the Center for Injury Research and Policy, click here.

Featured Expert

Tracy Mehan, MA
Center for Injury Research and Policy

Tracy Mehan is the manager of translational research for the Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

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