How to Childproof a Fireplace

Protect your Family and your Home by Employing these Safety Guidelines

As your baby grows and starts to enter the toddler phase there are lots of things that you need to do in order to make your house safe. The main areas that you need to make childproof are:

  • Stairs
  • Any steps into different rooms
  • Kitchen appliances, including cooker
  • Garage
  • Cupboards where drugs or hazardous material are stored
  • Fireplace

This list is not endless and the CPSC have guidelines that help families make their homes safe for babies and children. Just thinking of the different dangers that lie throughout your home can be daunting but there are lots of things that you can do to give you peace of mind and prevent your children from coming to harm.

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Is your fire safe?

One of the essential pieces of furniture that need childproofing is your fireplace as failing to do so can be catastrophic. By following these steps you can ensure that your fireplace is as safe as possible for your family.

Meeting fire safety regulations

When buying a new fire and fireplace it is important to purchase it from a reputable source. This could be from a store that has full documentation for the fire you are going to buy or, if you are buying second hand, from the paperwork that proves the fire is useable.

The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) update their guidelines on a regular basis to ensure that the fires, fireplaces, flues, vents and appliances are safe enough for your home. If you are not sure if your fire does meet these requirements or if your home’s pre-existing fire meets requirements, ask a fully qualified gas specialist to inspect on your behalf.

Full Installation 

It is vital that your fire and fireplace is installed correctly as per the instruction manual. If you are unable to install it properly yourself it should be left to a professional. Once of the main causes of fireplace injuries is the fireplace falling onto children as it is not secured to the wall properly. 

Regular servicing 

Fires will need to be serviced on a regular basis to make sure that they are in full working order. This is usually carried out on a yearly basis to after a period of not using your fire.

Checks will also need to be done on the fireplace itself to ensure there is no damage such as cracks and chips or unsecured brackets. Some insurance companies have regular service checks as part of their package. 

Sweep your chimney

If you have a traditional fireplace that uses natural materials then you will need to have your chimney swept on a regular basis. People usually book a chimney sweep once a year.

Even if you haven’t used your fire too much or you cannot see any visible soot, it is important to check that there are no blockages. The idea of sweeping your chimney may bring fear of making a mess in your house, but, professional sweepers are efficient and tidy.

Install and service a fire alarm

Smoke alarms should be fitted at every level of your home and be checked to see if they are in working order on a regular basis. Make sure you situate an alarm near a fireplace and also near your kitchen, which are both the main causes of house fires. 

Install a carbon monoxide alarm

As with smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors should be used to detect and risk of poisoning. It is advised to place detectors near sleeping areas and near your fireplace and gas boiler. Carbon monoxide has no taste or smell so it is unlikely to be detected without an alarm or when your appliances are inspected by a professional. 

Making your fireplace childproof

Once you have followed all of the above safety requirements it is then time to look at how you can prevent your child from getting too close to the fireplace. 

Stair Gates

You should always be in the same room with a child if there is a safety risk, which means being with them at all times when you have your fire on.

If you have fires in several rooms and your baby is free to get around the house you should either fully close the door or put a stair gate on the door opening and any stairs that give access to a room with fire.

If you are not using a proper gate and use something else to block your child’s way, make sure it is secure and cannot be moved or topple on top of your child. You can ask friends and family to pass on a gate they no longer use to save you money or look online at second-hand stores.

Install a fireplace gate

No matter how many times you tell your child not to go near a fire they will want to go and explore. This is perfectly normal as young children have inquisitive minds so their hands and feet will go wandering everywhere. The simplest way to protect your child from harm from a fireplace is to buy a fireplace gate.

There are lots of different types of fireguards on the market that will protect your child and will also look good in your room. You can buy fireplace safety gates that fir fully around the whole of the fireplace including the hearth or you can buy a gate that rests on the hearth and protects the firebox itself.

A fireplace safety gate that fits around the whole of the fire will prevent your child from getting too close to the fire and any sparks that spit out of the fire. Like your fireplace, you should ensure that the safety gate is installed correctly and fully secured so that your baby cannot pull on it and it comes crashing on top of them.

Be sure to put all of your fire accessories, such as pokers and shovels, behind the gate too. If there is no room be sure to keep them out of reach of your children. 

Protect the hearth

Your fireplace can be a danger to your child even when the fire is not lit. The hearth of the fire is hard and, sometimes, sharp so poses a hazard if your child falls and bumps their head on it.

If the fire hearth is exposed and you cannot fit your gate the whole way around it you should look at protecting it. You can buy padded hearth cushions that would fit most standard hearths or ask for custom padding to be made if needed.

The cushions rest over the sides and on top of the hearth edges and are easy to fit. It is especially important to protect the corners. When installing, make sure they are secure enough that your child cannot reach them and that they cannot come away from the hearth and into the fire. 

Regularly check decorative items on your fireplace

If you have a very decorative fireplace, with tiles or ornamental figures, for example, it is important to check them from time to time. Over time, tiles and decorative features can come loose and fall off the fire, which could be a hazard if your child is nearby.

This is the same for any items that you may keep on your mantelpiece. Be careful that large and heavy items cannot fall from the mantelpiece onto your child. 

Put a Lock on Fireplace Door

If your fire has doors you can install a lock so that it is fully secure when not in use. These are great for kids who like to explore and may be curious to get closer to the fire when it is turned off. Most cabinet-style locks will be good for the job and can be found at your local hardware store. 

Consider a cover during summer

If you do not use your fire during the warmer months then you can buy covers so that the fire is out of harm’s way. There are lots of traditional and modern covers on the market to suit your decor. They are usually not too big and can easily be stored in your garage or basement during the colder months. 

Understand basic child first aid

No matter how much you childproof your home, accidents can happen. Whilst a burn will be very distressing for both you and your child, it is important to stay as calm as possible so that you can help your child.

Even the smallest of burns, from a spark, for example, will need to be attended to. You should familiarize yourself with the guidelines for treating burns and contact a medical professional for support, where appropriate. 

There is a lot of factors to take into consideration when childproofing your house but you need not feel worried. All childproofing can be done easily and cheaply and once it has been done you can have peace of mind in the knowledge that your children can roam safely in your home. 

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