A fireplace is a wonderful addition to any home, but if you have small children, they can also be a hazard, and not always in the ways we assume. Between 2010 and 2015, for example, experts report that 402 children were seen in burn units due to injuries from glass-front fireplaces; typically, children are burned by the critically high temperatures of the glass. Other common injuries stem from carbon monoxide poisoning, while relatively few are caused by the actual fire. That’s why, to keep your family safe, you need to be strategic.
Don’t be afraid to use your fireplace – just be smart about its upkeep and the safeguards you put in place. By taking these 3 steps, your family can enjoy your fireplace with peace of mind. After all, while you shouldn’t play with fire, you certainly can appreciate its warmth.
Keep It Clean
When using a fireplace, the most important thing you can do is to make sure you keep it clean. Just as you make sure to keep the ducts from your HVAC clean because it affects the quality of the air your family is breathing, you have to clean the flue of your fireplace. It’s also important to have an expert inspect your fireplace and chimney annually to ensure that it’s venting properly. If your fireplace isn’t well-maintained, your family could experience carbon monoxide poisoning.
Be sure to use the correct methods of cleaning when tidying up your fireplace. Sweep up ashes and avoid using a vacuum as you may suck up live coals from among the ashes. This can be very dangerous, as the coal could continue burning inside your vacuum.
Block It Off
With small children and pets, it’s vital that you block off your fireplace with a screen, less because it will keep children from touching the fire – a determined child will find their way around it. Rather, you need to block off the fire because when burning, the fire may throw off sparks that can cause small burns and may even cause items in your home to ignite. It’s also important to make sure you remove any flammable items from around your fireplace, such as papers, and tie back neighboring curtains.
Many people treat their fireplace like a dumping ground for papers and twigs, but it’s not safe to burn just anything in your fireplace. In fact, you should only burn dry, aged wood because it has the cleanest burn, resulting in the least soot and smoke. What you shouldn’t burn? Things like shiny wrapping paper and ribbons on Christmas morning. And even if you always burn the right materials, you should always keep a fire extinguisher near your fireplace.
Even young children can be included in conversations about fire safety and what to do in an emergency; you can even have at-home fire drills and practice important safety skills, such as stop, drop, and roll. By practicing these skills, you can instill confidence in your children, not fear, and make your hearth the heart of your home.