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Before you purchase a fireplace safety product, take the time to understand what they do and how they can protect your children.
A fireplace hearth gate is a child safety product that acts as a barrier to keep your children (and pets, too) away from your fireplace. This is important since when a fire is lit, the heat and the flames can be dangerous. The hearthgate surrounds the hearth of your fireplace, and usually comes in multiple sections so you can configure this to fit your fireplace's specific size, shape and overall dimensions. For extra large fireplace hearths, most guards can be expanded with extension pieces. A gate is a good choice if you plan to use your fireplace often or if you need a way to deter curious children from exploring your fireplace.
A fireplace hearth guard, on the other hand, simply attaches to the hearth itself to pad the sharp edges. While this doesn't prevent a child from moving close to the fireplace, it does help keep your children from getting hurt. Most guards attach by an adhesive that does not damage the hearth surface so when your children get older, you can easily remove it. For younger children, or those who are more active, select a hearth guard that is extra padded.
No matter which option you decide to use, always follow the installation instructions and remember that no fireplace safety product is foolproof. Therefore, always make sure that your children are supervised when they are near your fireplace.