Stanford Children’s Hospital reported that a child dies every day from a fire inside the home. FEMA reported that over 3,000 Americans die in fires every year.
One way to lessen the chances of this happening in your home is by making your fireplace safer. Families, with young children especially, need to take fireplace safety seriously.
Kids and fireplaces are two things that don’t go together. However, with these fireplace safety tips, you can enjoy your fireplace without fear. Let’s get started!
1. Baby-Proof the Edges
While it’s common sense that young children can easily burn themselves, there are measures to be taken even when the fireplace isn’t in use. Kids that are just learning to walk, and even older children, take many spills.
Start by softening the edges of your fireplace. A soft guard should do the trick.
It’s relatively inexpensive to buy tubing that sits on the edge of your fireplace. Try to make the area as soft as possible without surrounding your fireplace with flammable objects.
This way you have to worry less about someone falling and hitting their head on the sharp edge of your fireplace. It’s most necessary for wood-burning, brick fireplaces as opposed to gas-insert fireplaces.
2. Install a Screen
A fireplace should never be completely open to the rest of the home. Not only should your fireplace have doors (or a glass front for electric inserts), but it should also have screens.
There’s a reason Christmas songs mention the crackle of the fireplace. Burning wood pieces pop out of the fireplace often.
Screens keep sparks inside the fireplace instead of on the carpet, rug, or floor in front of it. They also keep little hands from easily reaching inside the fireplace and getting burned.
You still don’t want kids touching the screens because that metal heats up from the fire. However, it’s one more safety measure before they reach the actual fire.
If you prefer the look of a standing screen, ensure that it is properly secured and can’t be easily pulled down. Curious youngsters may accidentally knock it over onto themselves.
3. Use a Baby Gate
Take fireplace safety a step further by putting up a baby gate to keep kids away from the fire. This can be more difficult in smaller living rooms, but for larger ones is a great precautionary measure.
They make baby gates specific to fireplaces now. However, you can use what you already have on hand. Keep in mind, a baby gate with a door makes it easier to restock firewood.
4. Inspect Your Fireplace
Your fireplace should have a thorough inspection at least once a year. This includes the chimney, flu, vents, and doors.
Have a professional chimney sweep come to inspect your fireplace yearly. This is part of your fireplace’s routine maintenance.
It’s common for animals to build nests, which block the smoke from exiting properly out of the chimney. Before you make your first fire of the season, keep your family safe by checking the chimney.
Also, do a once-over of your doors and screens. Is there anything out of place or sharply sticking out? These need to be remedied for little, reaching hands.
5. Use the Right Wood
For wood-burning fireplaces, you need to use the proper wood. If you don’t, you could have a dangerous situation on your hands.
The wood should be dry. Seasoned firewood is cut and left to dry for around 6 months at least.
Wet firewood results in a lot of smoke and doesn’t burn well. Smaller, dry pieces burn more efficiently and produce less smoke.
Never burn treated or painted wood either. These release chemicals and toxins into your air that your family then breathes in.
6. Never Leave the Fire and Kids Unattended
This should go without saying, but the best safety precaution you can take is to never leave your child unattended with the fire. In fact, your fire should never be left unattended, even without children.
Place fireplace remotes somewhere young children can’t reach. If your fireplace has a power switch, ensure they can’t operate it.
The best defense is a good offense. Be there to redirect your kids away from the fireplace and any tools that are beside it.
7. Install Important Detectors
Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Check them every month and change the batteries when they start to beep to alert you they’re low.
These are your line of defense when you’re not in eyesight. It takes less than 30 seconds for a fire to spread rapidly through your home.
8. Properly Put Out the Fire
When you’re done with your fire, put it out. Never leave a fire going overnight.
If you’re leaving the house, the fire shouldn’t be alight. Keep in mind that embers and ashes can stay hot for up to 3 days.
Remember to close the flu, but only after the embers have stopped burning completely. Always have a fire extinguisher on hand in case of emergencies.
Final Fireplace Safety Tips
Start talking with your kids as early as possible about your fireplace and fireplace safety. Even toddlers can understand certain words and dangers.
To reduce the impact of any residual smoke, run an air purifier. They can greatly reduce any unwanted emissions.
Fireplaces are a wonderful source of heat and fun, but they also should be operated with care. Follow these fireplace safety tips to keep your family safe.
If you are in the market for a fireplace, we can help! View all of our residential fireplaces here.