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7 Safer Alternatives to Fireworks

I have to admit that I’ve never been a huge fan of at-home fireworks. When I was a kid, I’d hide when the neighbors pulled out the Roman Candles and those little round ones that zipped all over the place, threatening to take out an eye. I wasn’t even fond of firecrackers (too loud, too much danger of blowing off a finger.) 

As a parent, I’m even less of a fan of amateur fireworks – after all, it’s not just my own eyes and fingers I have to worry about, but those of my five kids. We’ve also lived in several states that ban at-home fireworks (which doesn’t seem to stop the neighbors from setting them off, but at least kept them out of the stores for my kids to see.)

What I’ve learned over the years? Kids, especially little ones, really just want to light up the dark. And they are perfectly happy with a variety of safe alternatives to home fireworks, which the National Fire Protection Association report injuring thousands of people each year. Here are some of the tried-and-true fireworks substitutes that have kept our kids amused throughout the years – especially while waiting on a blanket for the “real” fireworks to begin.

  • Alternatives to Fireworks 1 of 8
    fireworks alternatives-1

    Spooked by sparklers? 'Fraid of firecrackers? Click through for seven alternatives to keep kids happy on Independence Day.

  • Who doesn’t love glow sticks? 2 of 8
    glow bracelets

    Glow sticks, the quintessential carnival kid crack. Psst: they're a lot cheaper at the dollar store, and they keep little tots colorfully happy on Independence Day. Photo credit: Lucky Lynda on Flickr.

  • Flashlights: Fun AND Practical 3 of 8
    mini flashlights

    Mini-flashlights can keep kids busy for hours, and they're perfect for lighting up the sky - or the side of the garage - during a Fourth of July celebration. Photo credit: Spence Sir on Flickr

  • Snakes: They don’t do much, but kids love ‘em. 4 of 8
    fireworks-4

    Yes, there's fire involved, but "snakes" - the little discs that grow into a tar-colored worm as they burn - are pretty benign. They don't make noise, they don't explode, and as long as you don't let your child light them and make sure to douse them with water afterward, I think you're pretty safe. And even though I think they're boring as all get-out, for some reason kids seem to love them. Obviously, keep away from babies and toddlers and anyone who likes to put things in their mouths. Photo Credit: Kain Road Cul de Sac on Flickr.

  • If you can’t use a sparkler, BECOME one. 5 of 8
    fireworks-5

    I admit that I do let my kids use sparklers, under careful supervision. But if that makes you squeamish, why not give your child a handful of bright colorful ribbons and let her act out being a sparkler? Photo credit: Laineys Repertoire on Flickr

  • Kids love party poppers! 6 of 8
    fireworks-6

    Usually associated with New Year's Eve, confetti poppers make a satisfying noise and kids love when the colorful paper flies out. Supervise young kids and make sure they know to point the poppers away from their faces. Photo credit: Kate Ter Haar on Flickr.

  • Get Silly with String 7 of 8
    fireworks-7

    Silly string is a perfect alternative to firecrackers: it's colorful, satisfying to spray and keeps kids busy for a while. Photo Credit: Timothy Tolle on Flickr.

  • Give ‘em a hand. 8 of 8
    noisemakers

    Sometimes, kids just want to make noise...a lot of noise. Party favors, like these clapping hands from Amazon.com, give them a safe way to blow off steam and make a little sound without terrifying their parents.

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