There's nothing like a blazing fire to warm you and your home on a chilly night, but a child-proof fireplace is essential for the safety of your family.
Anyone with kids knows that no matter how much you try to keep an eye on them, they find ways to get into trouble. Usually, that trouble doesn't amount to much—a broken dish, a potted plant on the floor, or your cell phone in the toilet. It's annoying, yes, but not dangerous.
There is, however, another kind of trouble that can spell real danger for your child. Burns from the stove, hot water, or old radiators aren't just painful, they can result in hospital stays and lengthy recoveries. While there are steps you can take to minimize these dangers, a child-proof fireplace is almost guaranteed to eliminate one major danger.
Fireplace burns don't just come from wood-burning hearths, however. There are an estimated 11 million gas fireplaces enclosed by glass doors in the U.S. And according to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 2% of U.S. households use wood or coal as their primary source of heat.
That's a lot of fires burning indoors and many opportunities for an accident. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that over 300 children per day receive emergency care for burns. While that number does include scalding from hot liquids and residential fires, it also includes direct contact with flames and contact with hot surfaces.
It's clear that keeping a child away from direct flames is important; that's why a lot of fireplaces have glass doors, right? No, as it turns out. Those glass doors aren't there to protect your toddler from burns. They increase the temperature in your home by keeping out drafts and by absorbing and radiating heat from your fireplace. They do keep cinders and falling logs inside the fireplace, though, so don't get rid of them just yet.
So how do you create a child-proof fireplace and keep your little ones safe?
Pre-made solutions for a child-proof fireplace
Baby gates aren't just for the staircase. A convertible gate system will keep your toddler away from the fire, but it won't block the heat. Set up the gates to create a perimeter around the fireplace. One note about this solution, however, is to ensure the gate isn't easily pulled over. All it takes is a trip to the kitchen and a busy toddler to pull down a loose gate and climb up on the hearth.
Screen it in
Some manufacturers sell screens specifically designed to help child-proof your fireplace. These screens don't absorb heat the way glass doors do. They can get warm, but by most accounts, they won't cause burns. Be sure to look for a screen that extends out from the fireplace. A screen that sits flush with the fireplace won't prevent burns.
Maintenance solutions for a child-proof fireplace
Keep it clean
A child-proof fireplace doesn't just mean a fireplace your kids can't get to. It also means a safe fireplace. Keeping your fireplace clean and maintained is one of the easiest ways to prevent a flue fire.
Make some noise
A fireplace is a beautiful, relaxing addition to any home. So is a carbon monoxide detector (although you could argue "beautiful" and "carbon monoxide detector" don't usually go together). Carbon monoxide is odorless, and it kills. A well-maintained fireplace will expel most carbon monoxide up the chimney and out of your home, but if for some reason it doesn't, that poisonous gas will stay in your home.
While you're at it, don't neglect your smoke detector, either. Test it monthly, and replace the batteries at least once per year.
Despite your best intentions and your watchful eyes, accidents can still happen. Keep a burn kit in your home and make sure your family has a fire escape plan.
DIY solutions for a child-proof fireplace
Cover that hearth
You want to prevent burns, but your fireplace also likely has some sharp edges. The corners and edges of the hearth can be a real hazard for a toddler who still falls a lot. Cover the hearth with a crib bumper or use gymnastics mats or yoga mats to turn those hard edges soft.
No matter how careful you are, accidents can still happen. In the event of a fire, get your family out of the house immediately, then call for help. We certainly hope you never need to worry about it, but if you have home insurance with Pekin Insurance, we'll be sure to help you through. Contact your local Pekin Insurance agent today to request a quote.
Do you have additional child-proof fireplace tips to share? Let us know in the comment section.