We know the holidays are an exciting time of year, but taking the time to review fire safety with your entire family, including children or grandchildren, can help to prevent serious injuries. It is important to explain the potential dangers of a fireplace to children in terms that they can understand. We’ve accumulated a list of common potential fireplace hazards and their solutions.
Problem: Toys or Presents Near Fireplace
Solution: It is important to keep all flammable items at least two feet from your fireplace. This distance helps to ensure a wood burning fire does not throw a spark onto anything nearby that could catch fire. We also recommend keeping your little ones at least two feet away to reduce the chance that a spark could land on them. Placing toys or presents near the fire increases the likelihood that a child will wander into this area, unaware of the dangers.
Problem: Fireplace Tools Within Reach
Solution: Tools such as the poker, shovel, brush, and the stand they often hang on can be a danger to energetic toddlers. In all scenarios, these tools should be placed out of the reach of young children. Fireplace tools are heavy and sharp – showing obvious dangers. They can also heat up when placed near the fire, burning curious hands. Matches, newspapers, starter chips, and fireplace remotes should also be kept out of reach.
Problem: Hot Glass and Metal Doors
Solution: Safe Kids Worldwide reports that glass doors surrounding a gas fireplace can heat up to 500° F and can cause 3rd degree burns in less than 1 second of contact. For reference: this is over two times as hot as boiling water. Young children who may be unsteady on their feet will often reach for nearby surfaces to keep themselves standing. If you have a glass door on your fireplace, it is important to place a safety screen or barrier between your child and the glass to prevent accidents. It is also important to note that this class can take more than an hour to cool down after the fire has been turned off or put out. The barrier should stay in place until the glass is completely cool.
Problem: Smoke or Carbon Monoxide in The Home
Solution: Whether you have a fireplace or not, you should have both carbon monoxide and smoke detectors installed in your home. These should be tested monthly and batteries should be changed at least once a year. If you have a wood burning fireplace you should be sure that the damper or flue (which both allow smoke to exit the home) is open before starting your fire each time and remains open until the embers are completely cool. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) also recommends keeping a window cracked while any fire is burning in your home.
Problem: Debris in Chimney or Unclean Chimney
Solution: Keeping your family safe starts and ends with ensuring your fireplace and chimney are usable and safe. Your chimney should be inspected annually and should be checked for animal nests or other blockages regularly. Call your local Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) certified Chimney Sweep to schedule your annual cleaning. If you live in Hampton Roads, you can reach out to us at Black Goose Chimney. Our Lead Technicians are all nationally certified through CSIA and hold additional certifications as Certified Dryer Exhaust Technicians [C-DET]. They also hold the Fire Investigation, Research, and Education (F.I.R.E.) certification.
Wishing you all a safe, warm, and happy holiday season this year!