Hold your fire: non-exploding July 4 fun
July 4 is a great family holiday but it is fraught with danger as every yahoo in the neighborhood unleashes his inner fire bug and sets off a Darwin Award-winning explosion. And it doesn't help that they see these fireworks for use at home sold everywhere. For the littlest ones, especially those under 5, it can be hard to find diversions that don't involve lighting something on fire. Here's some alternatives:
TNT Pop Its can be found in the front of every grocery store, Target and Wal-Mart this week. The sperm-shaped paper packets make a loud snap when thrown against a hard surface or stepped on. They are cheap (a box with 150 of them is only $1 or less) and they emit a slight spark when slammed to the ground, but they are safe enough to snap between your fingers (not recommended by the makers, of course, but I do it all the time). They are great for scaring your sister or stuffed into a wiffle-type golf ball and hit with a bat. YouTube is full of ingenious ways to turn these innocent noisemakers illegal.
Glow sticks, glow necklaces and body lights found in party stores emit such an entrancing neon glow that little ones won't notice you haven't handed them a sparkler. The necklaces are especially fun on a dark night to string together and make a glow lasso, a glow jump rope or a glow-in-the-dark ring toss game. Again, YouTube is endlessly fascinated with them. I especially like this character made of glow necklaces shimmying to the "Hamsterdance."
Flash lights also are very appealing to little kids and if you hold off until July 4 to bring out a special one such as this LED spiral light, left, or a simple flashlight that blinks in different colors or this $6.25 Spectra Light Wand. A good flash light toy can buy at least 20 minutes of distraction.
Here are more safety tips to keep you out of the ER this weekend.
-- Sharon Kennedy Wynne