As heating season comes along, its important to think about fireplace safety when it comes to children (and pets). Fireplaces (stoves) get hot. Although certain safety standards have improved over the years (such as mandatory screens on gas and propane fireplaces), there still remains a number of danger areas. Follow these five steps for a safe heating season.
1. Wood & Gas Stove Gates
Consider installing a stove gate around your fireplace or stove. These gates are customizable and can be configured in different shapes for added fireplace safety. Although not always aesthetically pleasing, they can be removed during warmer months. With access doors, you can also easily access your fireplace should you need to tend to it and / or add fuel.
2. Fireplace Screens
If you have a traditional gas or wood fireplace, consider adding a screen in front of it. Although these freestanding fireplace screens can be attached to the wall for added protection, simply being freestanding can often be enough of a deterrent for an accidental touch or ‘toy barrier’ to the hot fireplace glass. Fireplace screens now come in many designs from simple and modern to ornate and romantic, you can easily find a screen that enhances the look of your fireplace while also ensuring the safety of your furry friend or child.
3. Hearth Padding
If you have a traditional hearth that extends in front of your fireplace opening, ensure you have some protection on it. Hearths are typically elevated and made from concrete, stone or brick – and these can be hurtful should a child fall into them. Some companies even make a hearth padding that is fire resistant foam that you can attach to your hearth to prevent those injuries. No special padding? Consider a nice display of pillows (ensure to remove them should you turn the fireplace on).
4. Keep Danger Out of Reach
Flammable objects, fireplace toolsets and ignition materials all pose risks to children and pets, so it’s important to keep them out of reach (and away from your fireplace). Matches, starter chips and other ignition materials should be stored in a secure location where inquisitive children cannot get them. Remember that a fireplace toolset and ignition material can be as much a risk to older children as they are for toddlers.
5. Be Proactive & Keep a Watchful Eye
The last (and potentially most important) step in fireplace safety is to be proactive and educate and supervise your children (and pets) when the fireplace is in use. You should begin talking to your child about the dangers of fire as soon as possible and teach him/her about fireplace safety early on. Whether the fireplace is still burning or just hot, its best to make it a practice to take your child or pet with you when you leave the room.
Following these five steps will keep your loved ones safe while you all enjoy the warmth of your fireplace. Remember to also make sure all of your smoke alarms are working, invest in a carbon monoxide detector and have your chimney and fireplace professionally cleaned and inspected annually to ensure the safety of your whole household.