How safe is your fireplace for your child? Baby proofing your fireplace the right way can keep your child safe from burns and protect your home from fire.
You must be able to see things from your baby’s perspective to know how best to protect them from the fireplace. This article will show you how to baby-proof your fireplace, fireplace door, and hearth. You will also learn how to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in your home by taking some precautions.
How to Baby Proof your Fireplace
- Discover the threats
Knowing the threats your baby will encounter around a fireplace will help you baby-proof it better. To get a better view of the threats, get on your hands and knees and see things from a baby’s perspective.
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Some things to note are hot spots, sharp edges, and catchy items that may attract a child. The first threat to remove are flammable items around the fireplace.
Consider baby-proofing your fireplace before your child can crawl or walk, i.e baby proof for the future. For instance, if your baby is about to crawl, take precautionary measures that will keep them safe even after they transit into walking. This will save you time and money.
- Use baby gates
A baby gate can keep your baby a safe distance away from the fireplace. They act as a fence that goes around your fireplace, preventing your baby from coming too close to it.
There are different types of gates you can buy to protect your fireplace. If you have a freestanding fireplace, you can buy a gate that goes around the fireplace. However, if your fireplace has some nearby walls to attach a gate to, buy anchors that you will use to fix it to the wall.
You can use gates to also secure three-sided fireplaces – which can be more difficult to babyproof. Just get more panels to go around the fireplace.
Using a fireplace gate is the best way for keeping your baby safe, but you should never leave your child alone near a fire whether or not there is a gate. Also, frequently check your gate to be sure it’s in good working condition.
- Don’t use freestanding screens
Children can pull down a freestanding screen if they lean on it or apply pressure. Instead, choose fireplace gates. Fireplace gates will be made from heat-resistant materials, and will not be hot to touch.
The best gates to use are those fixed to a wall with strong anchors. This solution will prevent the gate from falling if your toddler leans or accidentally topples into it.
- Use a fireplace door
Fireplace doors provide a barrier between the fireplace and your child. It can keep them safe because they won’t have direct access to the fireplace. Hence, install a fireplace door alongside your fireplace gates to improve safety.
There are different types of fireplace doors, but the glass doors usually get hot pretty quickly. So if you must use it, install a fireplace gate alongside so that your child doesn’t have access to the hot glass.
However, installing the fireplace doors is not enough. You must lock them when you’re not using the fireplace. Small children are usually very curious about many things and wonder what’s in the fireplace that you don’t let them get close to. Hence, they could open it and hurt themselves with the firewood or other things that you use for heating.
Check the doors from time to time to be sure all the locks are functioning properly.
- Get the fireplace tools out of reach
There’s a lower risk of your child hurting themselves with the fireplace tools if they can’t get to it in the first place. Items like matches, lighters, lighter fluid, fire accelerants, or decorative iron fireplace tools can hurt your child badly. Instead of leaving them around the fireplace, lock them in a cabinet or within the fireplace fence.
Don’t even place these fireplace tools or any tool at all on heights where your kids could make them tip and fall. They could fall on the child and cause severe damage.
How to Baby Proof a Brick Fireplace DIY
Do you love to do things by yourself? Watch this short simple video on how to baby proof brick fireplace:
How to Baby Proof the Hearth
The hearth is a high-risk area for bigger kids as much as for younger ones. Bigger kids will find this a beautiful stage, which is the best place to rehearse their school performance.
When you do not properly babyproof, they could sustain injuries when doing their thing. These tips will help:
- Cover the edges
Sharp edges around the hearth or any part of your fireplace are very dangerous for children because they could hit their body and sustain serious injuries when crawling or toddling. Covering the sides of your hearth with soft materials will prevent these injuries.
You can use a hearth pads or long tubing to protect these edges. But if your hearth is made of wood, you will benefit more from protectors that only cover the corners.
Hearth pads are flame retardant materials and are the bed for covering the hearth. But you will need double-sided tape (hearth clamps) or glue to fix this pad to your hearth.
- Soften the surfaces
Softening the surface area of the hearth is a great way to decorate your home and keep the hearth in use when you are not using your fireplace. You can follow the creative instructions on the DIY video below to convert the hearth into a welcoming seat. Only remember to remove the materials before putting fire in the fireplace.
If you are not a very handy person but prefer more quick fixes, cover your flat hearth surface with a soft mat and put some pillows on it. Still, remove them before lighting a fire.
- Use a hearth cushion
A hearth cushion is a quick solution for protecting your hearth. You only need to buy the cushion and put it on your hearth.
Adults can stay on this cushion when you are not using the fireplace. But remember to remove the cushion before lighting the fireplace. Also, do not allow your child to sit or play around the hearth. It could make them feel like it is a playground, and want to go there even when the fireplace is burning.
- Cover the hearth with interlocking floor tiles
You will love interlocking floor tiles if your hearth is flat. You can get the interlocking floors used to decorate children’s play areas to cover your hearth and soften the stones and hard brick.
Except the floor tiles are flame retardant, remove them before you light up the fireplace. Also, do not use them if they tend to retain heat.
These interlocking floors contain soft foam that gives your child a soft landing when they fall on the brick or hard stone on a flat hearth.
- Use a bigger gate to restrict access
The quickest fix to babyproof your hearth is by using a more extended fireplace gate to cover the fireplace and hearth at once. This keeps your child from reaching the hearth at all, and that solves all the problems. So, no one falls on the sharp edges that could cause an injury.
How to Baby Proof With Fireplace Doors
Fireplace doors play a role in keeping the baby safe, especially in the summer months when you don’t need to make a fire. However, they can also be danger zones if you do not carefully babyproof them. The door can pinch their skin and cause bruises or wounds. Also, if they get close to the door when it is still hot, it could burn them.
These tips will prevent your fireplace door from harming your baby:
- Use fireplace gates to restrict access
The best way to keep your baby safe from a fireplace door is by preventing them from getting there in the first place. There’s a tendency for the fireplace lock to fail. Even when they don’t, the hot door can still burn your child if they access it immediately after use.
Also, the fireplace can be dangerous for your child without a fireplace gate when the fire is still burning. You can’t even close the fireplace door when the fire is crackling because it increases the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Hence, during and after using the fireplace, lock the fireplace gates to keep your child out at all times. This will prevent accidents caused by mistakes you never foresaw.
- Lock the door and check for danger
Lock the fireplace door when it’s not in use. After that, run your hands through the edges to know if there are sharp edges that can cause an injury. Also, get into a child’s mind and see how they could try to maneuver the door to open.
If you’re locking the door immediately after use, come back after some minutes to check and ensure that the fireplace door has cooled down completely. If it is still hot, check the fire again to ensure that nothing is crackling inside to cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
How to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon monoxide is dangerous and you must consider it when baby-proofing your fireplace. It is a hazardous gas released when carbon-containing fuels do not burn completely.
This gas reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood when you breathe it in. continually inhaling this gas will kill your cells and organs. This is what is called carbon monoxide poisoning.
It is difficult to detect carbon monoxide because it is colorless, odorless, and tasteless. That is why it is called a silent killer. The only way to detect carbon monoxide on time is with a carbon monoxide detector.
Some symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include shortness of breath, headache, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and loss of consciousness.
Carbon monoxide poisoning will not be an issue for you if you maintain high fireplace safety standards. Below are some ways you can prevent carbon monoxide when baby-proofing your fireplace.
- Ensure the room is properly ventilated
The impact of carbon monoxide poisoning is greater when there is no proper ventilation. So, check the chute and hire a professional chimney cleaner to evacuate a chimney.
Regularly do a chimney sweep because it can become blocked by weather drainage or dirt. If you can’t get a professional chimney sweep, learn how to clean your chimney and fireplace by yourself.
- Remove blockages before using the fireplace
Clearing blockages around the fireplace prevents materials from igniting outside the fireplace. Anything can become fuel when kept close to the fire. So, remove everything you used to babyproof your hearth, except flame retardant materials, Before lighting the fire.
- Install a carbon monoxide detector
A carbon monoxide detector will detect a carbon monoxide leakage and notify you early. Every house should have one because it has saved lots of lives.
The detector will detect carbon monoxide leaks or smoke and notify you in time. They are also very functional and reliable.
Besides getting a carbon monoxide detector, frequently check it to be sure it is in good shape. If you use a battery-operating carbon monoxide, frequently change the batteries for it to function optimally.
Even if there is only one thing you can do to eliminate carbon monoxide poisoning in your home, let it be getting a detector. It will alert you when there’s carbon monoxide poisoning in your home. Besides, it is affordable, unobtrusive, and requires low maintenance.
Best Baby Proof using Fireplace Gates
- Long adjustable gate
It can be pretty challenging to babyproof your fireplace if your house is big and airy, but this gate makes it simple. This gate is 28” tall and opens up 192” wide.
This type of gate is easy to install. you can even convert it into an 8-panel play yard. You can also use it in front of big entrances and doorways.
- Multi-panel gate
A multi-panel gate is so versatile that you can use it for your fireplace or to create an enclosed play court for your baby. It is lightweight and auto locking, and easy to install. You can also use it for other parts of your house, except the top of the stairs.
You can add or remove the panels depending on the length of your fireplace. But you must buy the extra panels if you need.
- Doorway gate
This gate stands up to 30” tall and can stretch up to 40” wide. It is easy to install because it doesn’t require drilling. Also, it has a latch that you will use to attach to the frame. It is suitable for doorways and fireplaces that have doorway-like entrances.
Also, check out freestanding baby gates for fireplaces.
How a real life mom baby-proofs her fireplace
Kathleen uses Bonnlo Fireplace Gate
Kathleen Fletcher is the CEO of Kitty Baby Love, a website dedicated to promoting crafting for kids and big kids alike! She said:
“When I was pregnant with my first (I now have three), baby proofing my fireplace was something that I knew I’d have to do. I did originally think I could use a regular baby gate, since I had already pre-emptively bought a few in preparation for giving birth, but I soon realized that this idea was unviable. My baby gates were freestanding, and it occurred to me that it would be pretty easy for a curious child to knock them over.
That’s why I went out and bought one specifically designed for use around fireplaces and other potentially dangerous areas of your home. It’s made from sturdy metal, has fixtures so that you can screw it into the wall for proper support, and features a gate mechanism that no toddler is ever going to work out. It worked well for me, and I would be happy to recommend it to any other recent/expectant parents. The only thing to bear in mind is that naturally, this will get rather warm if you place it too close to your fireplace, so make sure you set it a good couple of feet back from the open flames.
Do I need to baby-proof a gas fireplace?
You need to baby-proof your fireplace no matter the kind of fuel you use. As long as it heats up the house, your child can sustain injuries.
Can an open wood fire cause carbon monoxide poisoning?
Carbon monoxide poisoning can occur when you burn carbon-containing fuels like wood, gas, etc. without appropriate ventilation. If you make the fire in an open place, there is a lesser chance of carbon monoxide poisoning.
A good fireplace will warm your home and beautify your house, but it can become problematic when you don’t protect your baby from it. Baby proof your fireplace so that your baby cannot access it and hurt themselves.
Fireplace gates are the best for your fireplace. They will keep your baby out of the hearth and fireplace. With a fireplace gate, you can be sure of your baby’s safety.
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