5 Steps to Childproof & Pet Proof Your Fireplace
Pets and children enjoy the cozy, warmth of a fire as much as the rest of us. Unlike us, they do not understand the dangers that a fireplace can pose. It’s important to protect them from the potential hazards posed by a hearth and fireplace. Follow these five steps to childproof or pet proof your fireplace.
1. Install Glass Doors
In most cases, installing glass doors is the first step in ensuring the safety of your children and pets. Glass doors stop hot embers and sparks from flying out of the hearth and prevent curious hands and paws from reaching into the fire. They also ensure that your little loved one won’t topple into live flames. Even when your fireplace is not in use, they help to protect your child or pet from poking his/her head into the hearth and breathing in harmful substances.
Fireplace inserts and pre-fabricated fireplaces usually already have glass doors. If you have a traditional, open-hearth fireplace you can speak with your local fireplace store or chimney sweep to find glass doors that will fit your fireplace.
2. Put up a Grate
Having a grate in front of your fireplace is just as important as having glass doors. While glass doors protect your child or pet from the dangers of live flames, even heat-resistant glass can get up to temperatures that might burn a child or pet’s sensitive skin. Since 2006, the number of burns caused by touching heated glass has increased by 50%. The simplest way to prevent the possibility of burns it to put a grate in front of your fireplace. Grates now come in many designs from simple and modern to ornate and romantic, you can easily find a grate that enhances the look of your fireplace while also ensuring the safety of your furry friend or child. Depending on the design of your top rated fireplace and grate, this accessory for your fireplace might eliminate the need for hearth padding.
3. Use Hearth Padding
Hearth padding is a good investment for families with young children. Infants and children can hurt themselves by falling onto the hard, raised surface of your hearth or by bumping into the rough edges. Hearth padding is fire resistant foam that you can attach to your hearth to prevent those injuries. You can get hearth padding for just the edges or a pad that covers the entire hearth. While it may not be attractive, it is simple to add and ensures the safety of your child. During the seasons when your fireplace is not in use, you can dress up your hearth and cover the hearth pads with a blanket or pillows.
4. Keep Danger Out of Reach
Flammable objects, the fireplace toolset and ignition materials all pose a risk to children and pets, it is important to keep them out of reach. It is a good rule of thumb that flammable objects, including toys, should be kept at least 2 feet away from your fireplace. Matches, starter chips and other ignition materials should be stored in a secure location where inquisitive children cannot get ahold of them. The fireplace toolset should be blocked off by your grate or only placed near the fireplace when it is in use. Remember that your fireplace toolset and ignition materials are as much a risk for older children as for infants. Elementary and middle school children have been known to hurt each other by pretending fireplaces pokers are swords and starting fires when they aren’t supervised.
5. Be Proactive & Keep a Watchful Eye
The last step in fireplace safety is arguably the most important. The best way to prevent burns and home fires is by being proactive and supervising your child or pet whenever your fireplace is in use. You should begin talking to your child about the dangers of fire as soon as possible and teach him/her about fireplace safety early on. We recommend continually re-enforcing the rules of fireplace safety in terms your child can easily understand. Whether the fireplace is still burning or just hot, it is best to make it a practice to take your child or pet with you when you leave the room.
Following these five steps will keep your little loved ones safe while you all enjoy the warmth of your fireplace. Remember to also make sure all of your smoke alarms are working, invest in a carbon monoxide detector and have your chimney professionally inspected annually to ensure the safety of your whole household. Contact your local chimney sweep to find out other tips to keep your family safe or setup your inspection.
To find the best fireplace units and top rated safety features to go with them, stop by your local UFS member store showroom.