How to Keep Your Children Safe
Everyone enjoys the warmth and comfort of a fireplace. However, if you have a child, you may fear starting a fire because it can be dangerous. That being said, you can have a baby proof fireplace so you can enjoy it without putting your child at risk.
You’re probably wondering how it’s possible to have the best of both worlds. A baby proof fireplace is relatively easy to achieve. There are a few things you need to do in order to make it safe but there’s no drastic changes that will need to be made.
We’ll go over how you can baby proof your fireplace and make it safe to use while having a child. Get ready to enjoy having a fireplace again.
Put a Gate Around Your Fireplace
The most obvious thing you can do to baby proof your fireplace is to keep your children away from it. Putting a baby gate around the fireplace is the best way to do this. While it might not seem visually appealing to have a tiny gate around your fireplace, you’ll still be able to enjoy it without risking your child’s safety.
Be sure to keep the gate at a safe distance from your fireplace. If it’s too close, a spark can hit it and ignite it in flames. However, if it’s too far, it won’t reach both ends and your child will be able to walk around it. The best distance is about 5 feet away from your fireplace.
Add a Glass Door to Your Fireplace
If you don’t feel comfortable with a baby gate, you can install a fireplace glass door. While your child can get much closer to the fire, it’s still behind a glass door that can’t be breached.
A fireplace glass door has other benefits than just keeping your baby safe – it keeps your entire home safe. Sparks and smoke won’t be able to enter your home when the door is closed, forcing everything up and out of the chimney.
Speaking of chimneys, when you’re not using your fireplace, drafts are able to get into your home through the chimney. If you have a fireplace glass door, you’re able to keep drafts out. Babies and young children shouldn’t be exposed to the cold for a long period of time so being able to regulate your home’s temperature is extremely important.
Make Sure You Keep Your Chimney Clean at All Times
You’re probably wondering, “What does having a clean chimney have to do with a baby proof fireplace?” If your chimney isn’t clean, it can have dire consequences for your child and the rest of your family.
When you use your fireplace, soot and creosote line the walls of your chimney. This creates a blockage that prevents smoke from being able to go up and out of your chimney. With no other place to go, the smoke will billow back into your home which is very dangerous to breathe in – especially for children.
You should have your chimney swept at least once every 50 burns or when the soot in your chimney gets to be 8 inches deep. If you’re not sure how many times you’ve used your fireplace or just moved into a new home, it’s best to get a chimney inspection to determine when you need your next chimney sweep.
Have a Working Carbon Monoxide Detector
A functioning carbon monoxide detector is a must for any home with a fireplace. This will help prevent your child from having to breathe in carbon monoxide from the fireplace smoke.
If too much carbon monoxide is getting into your home from the fireplace, the alarm will go off alerting you that it is unsafe to be in your home. If the alarm goes off, you need to get your family and get out of the home.
Protect Your Children From the Fireplace Hearth
The hearth sounds like a scary monster and it can be to your children if it’s not properly covered. The hearth of the fireplace is the step in front of the fireplace box. This is usually where you keep knick-knacks or fireplace tools. It’s usually made of concrete or brick and has two corners on each side.
We’re sure most parents heard the words concrete, brick and corners and can see where the problems lie with children. To cover up the concrete, there are foam pads that will protect your baby’s head if they were to stumble and fall near the fireplace. Just make sure you remove the foam when you’re ready to use your fireplace because it could catch fire.
It’s also important to put foam covers on the corner of your hearth because that can be even more dangerous. Not only are they made of concrete, but they can be sharp enough to cut your baby’s head. You’ll want to prevent that from happening at all costs.
Keep Your Fireplace Tools Out of Reach
Remember how we said many homeowners keep their fireplace tools on the hearth? That’s a bad idea with a baby in the house. The poker can be very sharp and they all might be covered in soot and ashes. You don’t want your baby to get any of that in their mouth.
You’ll want to put the tools out of reach of your children. Your best bet is to keep them in a cabinet nearby or on the mantle where they can’t reach.
Explain to Your Children the Dangers of a Fire
No matter what you do, a young child is going to be curious – especially around fire. The best thing you can do is sit down with your child and explain to them the dangers of fire.
The goal isn’t to scare them though. Let them know why you light the fireplace but also let them know what happens if they get to close to the fire. Knowledge is always the key to preventing injuries.
Keep an Eye on Your Child When You Have a Fire Going
Just because you tell your child that a fireplace can be dangerous doesn’t mean you don’t have to keep an eye on them. Children are curious and adventurous. They may want to get a closer look at the fire which can cause problems if you’re not around.
Whenever you have a fire going, it’s extremely important to keep an eye on your children and make sure they’re safe.
A Baby Proof Fireplace is Easily Achievable
It’s important to make sure you have a baby proof fireplace but it’s not that difficult to achieve. Making small changes and explaining to them the dangers of a fireplace might be enough to keep them safe. Also, always make sure you have an eye on them when you have a fire going.
If you need a fireplace glass door or a chimney clean, Contact us! Since 1985, we’ve been making Chicago homes safer and cleaner. We’ll make sure that your children are safe and you’re able to use your fireplace freely.
How to Baby Proof a Fireplace (Step-By-Step Guide)
It may seem obvious, but babyproofing your fireplace is a crucial step in childproofing your home. The fireplace is a significant hazard to curious infants but also a big part of your home.
As fireplaces come in various shapes and sizes, babyproofing may not be as intuitive as you might think. Most baby gates are made to go across doorways and block access to stairs.
We’ve thoroughly explored this subject to find solutions that don’t involve getting rid of the fireplace or holding off on using it until your child is older.
In this article, we’ll show you how to babyproof your fireplace without ruining the whole aesthetic of your living room.
- Babyproof your fireplace by restricting access with baby gates, softening sharp edges, and ensuring doors are safe.
- Consider the risk of carbon monoxide and maintain proper ventilation, clean vents, and use a carbon monoxide detector.
- For a 3-sided fireplace, use extended baby gates to provide extra coverage and restrict access effectively.
- Always perform regular maintenance checks on your fireplace to keep your child and family safe.
Table of Contents
- How to Babyproof the Fireplace
- Three Great Baby Gates for Fireplaces
- How to Babyproof the Hearth
- How to Babyproof the Fireplace Doors
- How to Babyproof a 3-Sided Fireplace
- Prevent a Carbon Monoxide Threat
How to Babyproof the Fireplace
Keeping your little one far away from fire and blocking access to your fireplace doors and hearth are essential parts of babyproofing. You need to consider every part of the fireplace as a potential risk and address each piece separately.
We’ve broken down every aspect of fireplace safety below. Start by following these quick and simple steps to keep your little one safe around your fireplace.
1. Get On Their Level and Test It
It should be easy to babyproof something as dangerous as a fireplace, but you’d be surprised how many injuries still happen involving fireplace fixtures — even in babyproofed living rooms. Kids have this crazy ability to find novel ways to risk their lives, don’t they?
So think like a baby, and get on your hands and knees to give your fireplace a once-over. Feel the hearth for any nails or rough, sharp edges, and play with the doors or any openings to identify pinch risks. Get to know your fireplace.
The chances of your child thwarting whatever safeguards you’ve set aren’t high, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible. Instead of restricting access entirely, make a few smart changes. You could literally save a life.
2. Make a List of Hidden Dangers
Once you’ve gotten up close and personal with your fireplace, probably to some strange looks from the dog, you need to document your findings.
Write down or track what you think could be potentially harmful to your child, and keep those areas in mind when shopping for babyproofing tools. A lot of what I used on my fireplace was left over from babyproofing other areas, so having your list handy can be a great way to save time and money.
3. Restrict Access to the Fireplace
This one is a no-brainer, so we’ll keep it short. The less chance your walking or crawling baby has of getting to the fireplace, the less threat it contains.
You can prevent access to the fireplace in a few ways. Some parents don’t even want to think about messing with the fireplace, so instead, they keep the living room door closed at all times. This solution isn’t always practical, so many opt for a baby gate or fireplace screens.
You can use baby gates to block off the fireplace or keep your child confined to a different part of the room or house. Which method you choose to use will depend on the layout of your home and what is practical for you.
4. Identify Remaining Risks and Address Them
Did restricting access to the fireplace take care of some of the risks you identified? Great! You can start crossing things off your list now.
If anything remains that you think needs attention, read on. We’ve broken down every possible fireplace part that could cause harm and will explain how to address the risks.
Three Great Baby Gates for Fireplaces
Since baby gates are the simplest and most obvious solution to babyproofing a fireplace, we will spend a minute looking at different types of baby gates and their best uses. Most fireplaces can be securely restricted with a high-quality gate alone, so investing in a good product is worth it.
1. Multi-Panel Gate
Our favorite style of fireplace baby gate, which offers a lot for “just a gate,” is the multi-paneled metal gate.
These gates are great for either restricting the entire fireplace or containing your child in a little playpen-like enclosure. They’re lightweight, auto-locking, and big enough to block access to your entire fireplace.
2. Super-Long Adjustable Gate
Another great fireplace access-blocker is the super-long adjustable gate. It generally has more panels than the standard multi-panel gate. It’s a breeze to adjust and move around, and it’s great for big, open doorways and entrances.
We love a home that feels open and breezy, but it makes babyproofing hard — unless you have a gate like this.
3. Tall Doorway Gate
If you don’t want to block off access to the fireplace entirely and would rather block off the living room, you don’t need anything big or fancy. A strong, secure compression gate that fits your entrance and is tall enough to keep out curious intruders will do the trick.
If you worry about damaging your walls or the sturdiness of your gates, a wall protector can go a long way toward giving some extra support. They are designed to fit most baby gates, but check the product information and your gate of choice to ensure a perfect fit.
How to Babyproof the Hearth
Even bigger kids can have accidents on the hearth. When I was a kid, I always felt like it made a great stage. Since my childhood home had a hearth that was a rough, rocky surface, I lost track of how many times I scraped my knees when giving an impromptu fireplace performance.
In hindsight, that fireplace wasn’t very well protected, and I wouldn’t want my kids to do what I did. This is how I knew right away I needed to sort something out when it came to my hearth. Here are some protective measures you can take.
1. Soften the Edges
Infants fall. A lot. Like, every few minutes.
Any hard, sharp, or rough surface is a risk to their soft, adorable little heads. Covering and softening the sides of your hearth will prevent head injuries if your little one stumbles while crawling or toddling around.
You have a few options for doing this, but we like long tubing guards best. You can also purchase protectors that go only on corners, which are great for wooden hearths. Put these on the sharp edges, and you’re all set.
2. Make it an All-Around Soft Surface
If you have a flat hearth that isn’t raised from the ground, you can slide a rug over it. No problem, right? Well, for other hearth styles, it is a little more complicated than that.
Some people get creative and make DIY couches, play areas, or other visual focal points of soft, safe materials. If you’re crafty, consider this your next project! However, if you plan on using your fireplace, you’ll have to remove any flammable materials to prevent them from catching fire. This solution only really works if your fireplace is inactive.
If you’re like me, you may be a little less “hands-on” and more “fix it quick and easy.” Throw some pillows or a soft mat on the top of the hearth. Just be sure to move them first if you plan on lighting a fire.
3. Don’t Allow Access
As always, restricting access to the risk is the easiest solution. If you’re using a baby gate, you probably have this covered already. Even so, it wouldn’t hurt to go the extra mile in babyproofing, especially if you have extra materials for something fun and safe.
How to Babyproof the Fireplace Doors
Did you ever get your skin pinched in a door when you were young? It’s a terrible feeling — even for adults — and kids do not react well to it happening. Pinched skin can result in cuts, bruises, or puncture wounds. Plus, fireplace doors get hot, so you have a burn risk to top it all off (1).
Here are some workarounds to ensure this doesn’t happen to your child.
1. Test Out Your Fireplace Doors
If you did a good job exploring your fireplace, this part is already done. Good job!
If not, give your doors a shake, and run your hands over them. Anything feel dangerous? Make a note of it.
2. Restrict Access
Baby gates can help you keep your child away from your fireplace doors, or you can get a fireplace lock. Fireplace locks aren’t the best option since they don’t prevent your child from getting burned on the hot glass during or after use.
But if you won’t be lighting a fire in your fireplace and you’d like to prevent your little one from playing with the doors, a fireplace lock should do the trick. However, they’re only usable on doors with horizontal handles.
You should always have your fireplace doors shut when not in use. When there is a fire crackling, keep them open and your child far away. Closing the doors on a live fire can increase the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning (2).
3. Frequently Check for Door Temperature After Using the Fireplace
After you’re done using the fireplace, pay attention to when the doors cool off. By checking them from time to time, you can know when to allow access if you don’t have a baby gate in place.
How to Babyproof a 3-Sided Fireplace
Peninsula fireplaces are very modern and beautiful. They are generally a narrow fixture that extends further into the room and shows three sides of the fireplace. They make a gorgeous focal point, but they’re a lot harder to babyproof.
Sadly, there aren’t many options for babyproofing a peninsula fireplace. The stunning extended design is precisely what makes it such a risk, so your only option is to restrict access by using a baby gate.
Consider linking more panels together for extra coverage if you have a particularly large fireplace. And check out our safety tips for babyproofing the doors and hearth to keep your fireplace even safer.
Prevent a Carbon Monoxide Threat
Carbon monoxide is one issue people tend to forget when babyproofing their fireplace. This is a toxic gas that fire produces, and it can be much more harmful to your child than a bump or scrape. Fortunately, you won’t have to worry about this one too much if you maintain standard fireplace safety habits.
Since this is such an overlooked part of babyproofing, we will spend a little more time on this one. The solutions aren’t always as obvious for this area of your fireplace as others, so it’s understandable if you have no idea how to get started.
1. Check the Ventilation
Poor ventilation will increase the chances of carbon monoxide getting to your baby. Give the whole chute a check-up. If it’s been a while, you may need a chimney cleaner to check it thoroughly to be safe.
It’s easy for the chimney to get blocked by dirt or weather drainage, and this is where the risk becomes real. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a horrible experience and can even cause death in severe cases.
2. Clear Your Fireplace Vents
When checking the ventilation, make sure you’re also giving it a good clean as you work. A chimney sweep will take care of this for you, or you can learn how to clean your fireplace and chimney on your own.
3. Clear Any Blockages Before Use
This step also reduces the risk of a fire happening outside its designated area. Anything close to the fire can potentially ignite, so be careful. If you went for a DIY approach to babyproofing your hearth, don’t use your fireplace.
4. Get a Carbon Monoxide Detector
Every home with a fireplace should have one of these.
Carbon monoxide detectors work like fire alarms and will let you know immediately if something is wrong. Plus, they’re affordable, low-maintenance, and unobtrusive.
We love the simplicity of a multi-purpose detector. These will alert you if they detect smoke or carbon monoxide. They look nice, work great, and cut down on worrying. We may be alarmists, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!
If you want to eliminate the risk of carbon monoxide harming your child or your family, get a detector. It’s that simple.
5. Perform Regular Maintenance Checks on Your Fireplace
Maintaining your fireplace, replacing and testing your carbon monoxide detector, and keeping this area of your house tidy will protect your family. It can be hard to stay proactive about fireplace security when you have a little one, but the effort pays off.
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Children’s games, a magnificent antique fireplace made of sculpted marble, decorated with high relief angels.
Napoleon III style / Ref. 3302
Children’s games, magnificent antique marble fireplace decorated with high relief angels.
Late 19th century, Italy.
Very good condition. The patina of time. Traces of ancient restorations. A few stains on the fireplace slab.
This magnificent rare fireplace was made at the end of 19century in sculpted marble from the Genoa region in Italy. Before us is a real masterpiece with delightful ornaments, created by a talented sculptor. The fireplace is decorated with vine branches with juicy vines, among which three groups of angels play old games.
On the left side wall, three children are having fun playing hide and seek: one of them, blindfolded, is trying to catch friends. He managed to grab one. He seemed to know who it was by touching his face. And the third angel «shows him his nose.» Blind man’s buff has been played since ancient Greece.
On the right sidewall we see an angel on a swing, which is swinging by two of his friends.
On the ledge, six children are playing the game «cotton-hand». This forgotten old game: one of the players puts his hand behind his back, the other players slap him on the hand, and he must guess who it is. At the same time, his head is sandwiched between the knees of the “checking” player so that he cannot turn around and see who hit him.
This game was especially common at 18 and 19centuries. It was described by Jacques Stella in 1675 in «Jeux et plaisirs de l’enfance» («Plays and Pleasures of Childhood»): his engravings represent fifty-two games with similar naked children, as on this fireplace.
At the end of the 19th century, «childhood» was often represented in art, both as the personification of innocence and true joy, and as a state of nature. These children’s games among the vines may represent hedonism.
Before us is a unique fireplace, with truly magnificent sculptural ornaments. This is a real work of art.
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