Child Proofing Your Fireplace – Avoid the Burn
If you are lucky enough to have a fireplace then you have no doubt considered the hazard this can present to your home if it is not a space that is respected. Unfortunately, a baby doesn’t know the meaning of respect, or danger yet. The fireplace presents a critical piece of your baby proofing puzzle.
There are more hazards than you may realize around a fireplace that a curious child will put to the test eventually. You have to work through these hazards systematically to eliminate each risk one at a time.
This is an endearing, and cozy home feature. Removing it would be expensive and not practical. So we will seek to help you take all necessary steps to protect your child against potential accidents.
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Your Child Proof Fireplace Shopping List:
|North States Superyard 3-in-1 Metal Gate||N/A|
|Fireplace Door Lock||$21.95|
|Safety 1st Foam Fireplace Guard||$24.89|
|Kidkusion Soft Seat Hearth Pad, Brown||$129.99|
|First Alert CO605 Carbon Monoxide Plug-In Alarm||$22.69|
You are going to want to prevent your child from getting anywhere near enough to the fireplace to get burned by a stray ember.
The best option is to use a baby gate. You can either opt for one that surrounds the fireplace, attaching to wall studs on either side, or for one that can act as a gated play area for your little one.
The North States Superyard is a great option, as it is 3-in-1 and can be used both of these ways. This gives you versatility.
You may choose to use it as a play area when your child is younger and not steady on her feet. By keeping her confined she is less likely to injure herself on other furniture around the room. Then, as she gets older, you may choose to use it just to block off the fireplace area.
The best way to keep your child, and your home, safe from popping embers is to install a glass door (if your fireplace does not already have one). But, this also gives you another area to child proof.
The glass exterior will get very hot, and will remain so long after the flames have gone out. Again a baby gate is your best option here to block any access to this area.
An opening door also presents a serious risk. They are usually bi-folding doors and can easily snag some fingers when opening and closing. This is an ever present risk that may not be at the front of your mind in the hotter summer months when the fireplace is aa mere decoration.
If you lock that door down then you can forget about this additional hazard.
Safety Innovations has a great fireplace door lock. It easily mounts, with the screws and hardware provided; all you need is a screwdriver. It fits across the width of your fireplace opening, over the handles of a swinging or folding door, to keep the doors from being able to be opened. The only downside to this lock is that it needs to be removed whenever you need to open the doors.
After the flames, your hearth is likely the next most dangerous area of your fireplace. Regardless of whether your hearth is flat or has a raised step, you are going to need to soften the hard surfaces and sharp edges in case your child were to fall.
For a raised hearth, you can get the fireplace guard set by Safety 1st. The concept behind it is basically the same as the foam bumpers you put on your furniture, like coffee tables. This will soften the edges and corners to reduce any nasty bumps or bruises. It comes with pre-installed adhesive, and all you have to do is stick them to the sharp ledge of your hearth.
You can also get a hearth pad to create a softer flat surface. This can be used for either type of hearth as it just lays over the hard surface. A nice additional feature is that it is flame resistant, so you do not need to remove it when you want to use your fireplace.
If bumpers and pads are not for you, you can also go a cheaper, DIY route. Use interlocking foam play mats to cover the top and sides (if applicable) of your hearth. Just make sure to remove them with your fireplace is in use as they are not flame resistant.
One thing you may not think about as a fireplace hazard is the damage poor ventilation can do to you and your child. You will want to make sure your chimney remains clean and clear so you do not have smoke back up into your house.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is also a risk to be aware of with fireplace usage. It is especially scary since it is odorless and cannot be detected by human senses.
Make sure you replace your smoke detectors’ batteries on a regular basis, and invest in a carbon monoxide detector. There are several different models with a wide range of prices. We like the First Alert CO605 as an inexpensive and reliable option. It plugs into a normal outlet and has a battery backup so it will continue working if your power goes out.
For those who are not using a gas fireplace, you likely have your fireplace tools sitting nearby. Your final step in child proofing your fireplace area is to move these out of reach. Most are made with cast iron, and are very heavy to a small child. They could do some serious damage if they were to fall on her.
Your tools will likely remain hot after use as well. You want to make sure you store them somewhere safe, where your child cannot get burned and where they will not do damage to your home or furniture. Again, if you have a baby gate installed, you can keep them away from your child while keeping them near your fireplace and easily accessible when needed.
Above all, you need to be prepared in case an accident was to occur. You may not be able to catch everything, no matter how diligent you are, and you would hate to be caught in a situation where you do not know what to do. Be aware of what carbon monoxide poisoning looks like in case your child starts showing symptoms. Learn how to treat burns, being sure you know when it is too serious to be taken care of at home. It is always better to be prepared for something that may not happen then to be caught off guard.
If you want more information – Check out our complete guide to child proofing here.