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Mother hugs her daughter as they lie near the fireplace

Fireplace Safety Tips to Keep Your Fireplace Kid-Friendly

Having a fireplace in a household with young children can be very stressful for parents. Some parents may go so far as to avoid using their fireplace for years out of fear of their children getting hurt.

But there are ways to baby-proof your fireplace so you can still enjoy warm fires without the worry of your little one getting too close to the flames.

You can either opt for a safe electric fireplace or follow this guide to make your fireplace kid-friendly.

Fireplace Dangers for Toddlers

Here are the hazards of fireplaces for young children, and why your fireplace needs baby-proofing:

  • Burns from hot embers, touching hot glass, or getting too close to the flames
  • Tripping hazards on stepped fireplace hearths
  • Sharp corners on hearths
  • Sharp fireplace tools
  • Ash
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Gas leaks
  • Air pollutants from blocked chimneys and vents
  • Slivers from firewood stored near the fireplace

Fireplace Safety Tips

To ensure your children stay safe around your fireplace, follow these fireplace safety tips:

  • Do not leave young children alone near your fireplace.
  • Create a barrier around the fireplace to prevent contact with hot surfaces. Also, be cautious of contact burns from wood stoves, radiators, oven doors, irons, and curling irons.
  • Remove tripping hazards and cover sharp corners, such as placing foam coverings on the edges of a fireplace hearth when the fireplace isn’t in use.
  • Teach your kids about the dangers of fire.
  • Make sure the fireplace damper or flue is open before starting a fire, and keep it open until the fire it out to keep smoke out of your home.
  • Keep a window cracked open if possible when having a fire.
  • Keep all flammable objects, furnishings, and décor away from the fireplace.
  • Keep matches, lighters, or fireplace remote controls out of your child’s reach.
  • Clean your fireplace of ashes regularly, storing ashes in a fireproof container (e.g. a metal can with a secure lid).
  • Have an annual fireplace and chimney inspection and cleaning by a professional.
  • Do not leave fires unattended.
  • Keep fireplace tools out of reach of children.
  • Install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, testing them monthly and changing the batteries at least once a year.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher in an easy-to-access location.

Here are tools to help baby proof a fireplace:

Fireplace Screens

Fireplace safety screens reduce the risk of burns by providing a barrier between the fireplace and young children.

Free-standing fireplace screens can fall over, so use a safety screen designed for installation on your fireplace instead.

Fireplace Gates

A fireplace gate is a baby gate meant for use in front of fireplaces. The safest fireplace gates are secured to the walls, so you don’t have to worry about the gates falling over. These gates come with a secure door that opens so you can tend to the fire.

If you have a wood-burning fireplace, install the gate further back to keep your little one far away from flying embers.

Fireplace gates protect your kids from:

  • Falling into the fireplace;
  • Flying embers;
  • Hot glass, if there are glass doors on your fireplace;
  • Sharp edges on stepped hearths; and,
  • Sharp fireplace tools for wood-burning fireplaces.

Fireplace Door Locks

A fireplace door lock mounts over the handles of fireplace doors and securely locks them until you are ready to use your fireplace. These door locks prevent kids from getting into the fireplace and ingesting ash. The door locks also prevent kids from having their fingers pinched in the doors.

Hearth Guards

Hearth guards pad the sharp edges of fireplace hearths, such as on stepped hearths. These guards are often made with flame-retardant materials so you can keep the guards on while using your fireplace.

Hearth guards clamp onto the edge of the hearth, are adjustable, and come in different colours to suit your hearth and interior décor.

Baby Proofing Glass Fireplace Doors

Glass doors get broiling hot—up to 500˚F—causing severe burns if touched. And the glass can remain hot for a while after the flames go out.

So use a safety barrier screen in front of glass fireplace doors to keep toddlers at a safe distance and prevent them from coming in contact with the hot glass.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Carbon monoxide (CO) detectors are a must for homes with fireplaces. Carbon monoxide is a silent killer, meaning you won’t be able to see or smell if there is a dangerous amount of CO in your home.

Children are especially vulnerable to carbon monoxide poisoning because of their small size. So keep a carbon monoxide detector on each floor of your home (along with smoke detectors).

Practicing A Fire Escape Plan

All families should have a fire escape plan, even if they don’t have a fireplace, and especially if they do.

A fire escape plan will help your children learn how to escape the home safely in the event of a fire. Consider buying fire escape ladders if your kid’s bedroom is on the second floor of your home. And practice your fire escape plan often so you and your family will be better prepared in case of a fire.

Having young children in a home with a fireplace can be nerve-wracking. But with the proper safety precautions, you can baby-proof your fireplace and ensure that all kids are safe.

With these safety tips, you don’t have to stop using your beloved fireplace for years until your children are grown. Instead, you can enjoy many seasons in the warm glow of the fireplace with your family cozy and safe.