Kids always seem to be getting into scrapes that result in minor injuries of one kind or another. Usually a small bandage and a little TLC is enough to remedy the problem. Where fireplaces are concerned, however, the injuries can be significant – not something parents ever want to face. Here are some tips for keeping kids (and pets) safe around your fireplace.
“Forewarned is forearmed”
Like that old saying implies, education often is the best preventative. Children of all ages – but especially kids under 5 or 6 years old – need to understand that fireplaces are not toys and they’re not areas where play is appropriate.
Each child is different, and no one knows your child better than you, so educate him or her in a way that the message will get through. A general tactic is to create an invisible hearth-area perimeter of, say, five feet, inside which your child is never allowed to go when a fire is burning.
If you’re consistent in preventing your child from playing too close to the fireplace or playing too wildly in general when the fireplace is in use, he or she will eventually begin to understand what’s expected and naturally follow your directives. Like with everything else when it comes to kids, consistency is the greatest teaching tool.
But that doesn’t mean you can rely only on consistency, so it’s important to take certain reasonable safety measures. One of these is a sturdy fireplace screen.
Fireplace screens sit in front of an open firebox and act as a two-way barrier: they help to keep things inside the fireplace (sparks and embers) from popping out into the room, and they help to keep things outside the fireplace (kids and pets) from getting too close to the fire.
Vent-free gas log sets
If your current fireplace is an open, wood-burning unit, consider converting to gas with a nice set of gas logs. Vent-free gas logs are safe and require next to no maintenance. Most importantly, a gas log fire doesn’t create hot embers and doesn’t shoot sparks out of the firebox to cause potential injury.
Another advantage of gas is that the level of the flames is always under your control, and the fire can be extinguished rapidly with a simple switch.
Keep matches safe
If you use a wood fireplace, an excellent safety precaution is to keep the matches you use to get fires started in a place kids can access them. This could be a mantel shelf when younger kids are in the home or in a locked box if there are older (taller) kids. You might even consider keeping the matches in a place completely removed from the hearth area.
No toys near the fireplace
Along with keeping your child physically away from the fireplace, you should find a good system to keep all toys away as well. If toys inadvertently find their way close to the fireplace, kids may automatically gravitate toward them. Make a symbolic “no-fly zone” around your hearth into which kids’ (and pets’) toys are not allowed.
By following these guidelines and customizing them for your own unique situation, you’ll be going a long way toward keeping your children and pets safe around your fireplace.
Fluesbrothers of Kansas City, KS, wants everyone to practice smart fireplace safety. Part of that safety is keeping your chimney free of flammable creosote and ensuring that your chimney, fireplace and all their components are in good working order. Call us at (913) 236-7141 for the best in chimney sweep, chimney inspection and fireplace and chimney repair services.
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