We don't let the kids, even the pre-teen, light any, and they have an area where they have to stay. And then we only get pretty wimpy fireworks.
What do you think is safe, and what rules do you have for your kids?
I wonder if there is a difference between wooden and metal sparklers? I know some states ban the metal ones....
With such a young DS, I know we'll be waiting a while before we do anything at home. We're planning on going to an event, and the rule will be to stay away from people who look like they are doing unsafe things (mostly leaving hot items on the ground unattended).
Last year was the first year we let the kids light anything themselves. Before that they could do the pops (those ones you throw on the ground) and the pull string ones with supervision. Otherwise they were just allowed to watch. Last year they were age 6 and 9 and I did let them purchase and light fireworks under direct supervision. I guess I figure I want them to learn how to do them safely now instead of doing some of the really stupid things I remember friends and family doing once we were old enough to take off with our friends and be unsupervised on the 4th. So we are starting small and young. They get to light them under close supervision. There's not anything really off limits. We do make sure it's a very small group of us lighting. We only allow one person to light them at a time and everyone else just gets to watch. I don't allow them to be near the fireworks if multiple people are lighting them off somewhere such as at a party. It's too hard to monitor your own fireworks while also paying attention to what everyone else is doing.
We do sparklers, but we set strict rules. The kids all stand in a line a good 3 feet apart. They have to have their arm straight out in front of them holding it and they can move it slowly back and forth that way but have to keep their arm straight. We also make sure they don't have long sleeves that could catch fire on and they know they can drop the sparkler down onto the concrete if it gets too hot. When they are real little we stand right behind them to make sure they are being safe. We've never had an issue.
In the country I live in firecrackers are a really big deal for Christmas and New Years. And there are constantly campaigns to keep them out of kids' hands because so many kids end up in the children's hospital burn unit every year. But it is such a part of the festivities, I can't imagine completely prohibiting the kids being around them. I like JollyGG's philosophy of making sure they learn to use them safely at home with their parents. I figure around the time our kid is 7 or 8 we will let him learn to light some of the smaller ones with direct adult supervision and assistance.