When you have a toddler or small child in the house, fireplaces, just like many other areas of the home, can become a hazard if not taken care of correctly. Whether you have a traditional wood-burning fireplace on a stone hearth, a gas or wood stove, or a gas insert fireplace, they all require extra attention when children are around. Here’s how to baby-proof a fireplace:
1. Prevent contact with hot surfaces
Fireplace and stove glass doors and other surfaces can become extremely hot to the touch, and toddlers are prone to steadying themselves awkwardly on the nearest surface. A movable gate is an easy way to keep children far enough from the fireplace avoid any risk of getting burned, while still allowing them to enjoy the heat at a safe distance. If your fireplace is located in a room where the child spends unsupervised time, it is a great idea to leave it in place permanently, even when the fireplace or stove is not in use.
2. Eliminate tripping hazards and protect sharp corners
Many traditional fireplaces sit on a stone or brick hearth. The sharp edges could cause a severe injury.
You can childproof this in one of two ways. If your fireplace is frequently used, the gate method described above is ideal. If you are not currently using the fireplace due to seasonality or other reasons, foam floor tiles can be fastened around and on top of the hearth to soften the edges. This method should only be used in the case that no heat comes from the fireplace.
3. Prevent contact with sparks, ash or carbon monoxide
Sparks can jump pretty far. It is important that when your fireplace is in use, children are kept far enough back to avoid any vigorously jumping sparks.
Keeping your fireplace regularly maintained will minimize the amount of carbon monoxide vented into your home, which can be damaging to a developing child or anyone else in the house.
When your fireplace is not in use, a childproof lock on the glass door can prevent their access to ash, which can be harmful when inhaled or ingested. Kids explore with their hands and mouths, but a mouthful of ash isn’t something they need to learn about just yet.
4. Eliminate risks of contact with fuel or remote controls
Keeping wood or pellet fuel stored in an area out of reach for a toddler or child can protect them from slivers (and protect your home from being covered in pellets and sawdust).
Remote controls for gas-burning appliances should always be stored out of reach and never left out of place, even during times when the whole family is in the room.
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