Fireplace Safety Tips

Read these 15 Fireplace Safety Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Child Safety Products tips and hundreds of other topics.

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What are some basic fireplace safety tips?

Fanning the Flames of Wisdom About Fireplace Safety

For those who own fireplaces, safety is a must. Never leave a young child alone near a gas fireplace; they can be burned before, during, and after use of the fireplace. Create a barrier around the gas fireplace with the use of. Safety guards can be installed to keep your child at a safe distance at all times. Safety gates can keep your child from being in the room alone. Consider purchasing a safety attachment designed to disperse heat from the fireplace doors.

Are gas fireplaces safe?

Gas Fireplaces and Your Kids

The use of gas fireplaces is becoming a popular alternative to traditional wood-burning fireplaces, especially in newer homes. They are simple to use, provide an instant fire at the turn of a switch, and produce heat to warm a home. But of all the gas fireplace safety tips, this piece of information is the most important: Remember that gas fireplaces get hot quickly and hot temperatures burn children fast. Every year children are burned from contact with the glass barrier at the front of a gas fireplace. Statistics show that contact burns, injuries sustained when a part of the body touches a hot object, are the second leading cause of burns in children.

Do I need a carbon monoxide detector?

Carbon Monoxide Detector

If your fireplace isn't venting correctly, it could be causing too much carbon monoxide in your home. This could pose a very dangerous situation for you and your family. That's why experts recommend that all homes have a carbon monoxide detector that will alert you if there is a problem. This is an important step in your fireplace safety efforts. You should also have your fireplace and chimney inspected by a professional

What else should I do to keep my fireplace safe?

Other Fireplace Safety Tips

When you light a fire in your fireplace, a large amount of air is needed to keep the fire going. Yet many houses today are tightly sealed with weather stripping on the doors, caulk on the windows and self-closing vents, so air is at a minimum. This causes a risk in two ways. First, there is the danger that your fireplace could create a reverse draft, which would redirect carbon monoxide fumes from your furnace or water heater into your living room. Second, the amount of oxygen that the fireplace uses could leave a deficit for you and your family. To counteract these two problems, there are some important fireplace safety tips you should follow on a regular basis:

·Always open a window when you light a fire.

·Consider installing an outside air vent.

·Make sure that exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathroom are off.

·If you have forced air heat, close the vents.
These important steps, in addition to using other fireplace safety products such as a hearth gate and hearth guards, will go a long way to keep your family safe and allow you to enjoy your fireplace.

Will all hearth gates fit my fireplace?

Adjusting Your Hearth Gate To Suit Your Needs

What if the hearth gate you purchased is not large enough to adequately surround your fireplace? Most gate companies like KidCo's have created additional HearthGate extensions. These are sold separately. The extensions easily interlock with the original gate panels, increasing your gate's length in by 24 inches at a time. Like the gates themselves, they can adjust in 10 degree increments or they can be set in a straight line, to suit your specific needs.

What else can I do to prevent fireplace injuries?

Make Sure Your Child Never Takes The Heat

Everyone loves to gather around the fireplace at home. Extra steps need to be taken when there are young children in the house in order to ensure their safety. A drastic step is to consider not using the fireplace in the day, or while children are awake. Barring that option, there are several fireplace safety precautions parents can take to avoid any dangerous mishaps. Perhaps the most important is education. Children need to be taught the dangers of fire and fireplaces as well as how to protect themselves from injury.

What is the difference between a hearth gate and hearth guard?

The Difference Between a Hearth Gate and Guard

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.

What do I need to know before I select a fireplace hearth guard or gate?

Assessing Your Fireplace Safety Needs

When it comes to buying a hearth gate or a hearth guard for your fireplace, it is important to begin by assessing your needs and the features of your fireplace first, before deciding on a model.

·Here are some things to consider:

·How is your hearth set up? Is it even with your floor or is it raised?

·Is your hearth made of brick or stone?

·Is there room for a baby to crawl beneath the hearth?

·How wide is the hearth?

·What are the overall dimensions?

·Is there anywhere you could attach a hearthgate?

·How old are your children?

·Are they often in the room where the fireplace is located?
Once you are armed with these facts, you can look at the range of products available and select the one that will best fit your situation.

What things should I avoid when using my fireplace?

Fireplace Don'ts

For safety's sake, here are some important things to avoid when you use your fireplace:

·Don't rely on your hearth gate alone to keep your children safe.

·Don't let children sit near the hearth.

·Don't use gasoline to get the fire burning stronger.

·Don't use the comic section of the newspaper, because the colored ink contains lead.

·Don't forget to follow fireplace safety tips on a regular basis.

·Don't burn a Christmas tree, which cause a fire in your chimney.

·Don't forget to check the fire to be sure it is fully out before you go to bed.

What things can I do to ensure fireplace safety?

Fireplace Do's

A fire in your fireplace can be beautiful, but it can also pose a hazard if you have young children running around. That's why it is essential that you have a hearth gate in place to keep your children from getting too close to the flames. Here are some other do's to help you enjoy the fire while keeping your kids safe:

·Do remove all fireplace tools, so your children won't be tempted to touch them.

·Do remove all of the wood, matches and newspapers, which can be hazards for children.

·Do remind children to stay a safe distance away from the hearth. Even with a gate in place, this is no place for youngsters to play.

·Do understand that a hearthgate is only one step in your fireplace safety regime.

·Do check your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors regularly to be sure they are working.

·Do supervise youngsters at all times when a fire is lit.

What's the best way to protect my children from fireplace injuries?

Keeping Your Child Away From Fireplaces

When it comes to fire, you can't take chances. A hearth gate keeps kids safely away from heat and flames, no matter what size or shape your hearth. Interlocking gate segments adjust so you can angle them to fit any area. Basic gates usually fit hearths 6'W by 2'D and are perfect for use around grills and spas as well.

How can I keep my child's fingers from being pinched?

Fireplace Door Guard

If your fireplace has its own set of protective doors, you may have decided that this is safety enough for your children and that you don't need a fireplace hearth gate to keep them away. But you may not realize that the door itself can pose its own hazards, since little hands can easily get pinched by the glass. To prevent this from happening, buy a fireplace door guard. This is an inexpensive piece that attaches over the handles or swinging or folding-style doors and holds them in place so your children can't move the doors at all. For $20 or less, this is an important step in your fireplace safety routine.

How can I be sure my smoke detectors are working?

Smoke Detectors

Before you use your fireplace and fireplace hearth gate, it is important to make sure that your smoke detectors are working properly so they will alert you to any potential danger should anything go wrong. Check the batteries regularly -- once every two to four weeks is a good rule of thumb – and replace the batteries once every year. Also test the detector by holding some smoke underneath and making sure that the alarm goes off within 20 seconds. Talk with your family about how you would respond if a fire does break out in your home. Also do a practice fire drill so that everyone knows where to go in an emergency. By following these important fireplace safety tips, you can help ensure your family is prepared for anything.

How can I keep my home's decor but make it safe?

Child Guard Screen

You don't have to sacrifice style for safety. If you are looking for a fireplace hearth gate, or a similar type of product that will keep your child away from your fireplace or wood stove, consider opting for a child guard screen with a sophisticated design to match the rest of your home's decor. This enables you to see the beauty of your fireplace without the rungs of a fireplace hearth gate in your way. Like many fireplace hearthgates, the child guard screen attaches to the wall with special anchors. The screen also has an access door in the front panel for adult access to the fireplace. This lets you childproof your home and still let it look great!

How can I attach a hearth guard?

How to Attach a Hearth Guard

If you have a brick or stone hearth around your fireplace, you may be worried about how you can attach a fireplace hearth guard to the area to protect your child from getting injured. Today, there are several options to cover the hearth guard as part of your fireplace safety efforts. You can select a hearth guard style that clamps on to your existing hearth, or you could opt for a design that sticks on using an adhesive. Some brands also make one that attaches by Velcro instead. For extra security, shop around for a hearthguard that allows you to purchase extra padding. In addition to hearth guards, fireplace surface protectors, bumpers and cushions all serve a similar function. The good thing about all of these products is that they are all easy to install and they won't harm your fireplace surface and can be removed when your children are older. If you don't plan to light your fire when your children are in the room and you just need to protect your child from getting hurt on the sharp edges of the fireplace, hearth guards can be a feasible alternative to using a fireplace hearth gate to keep your children safe.

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Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.