How to Effectively Baby-proof Your Fireplace
A lot of families in countries who experience snow season have fireplace to warm their homes. However, the flickering flames of a fireplace attract babies and spark their curiosity. Being too close to a fireplace does not only put your baby at the risk of being burned but it also maximizes the risk of your baby to inhale carbon monoxide, which is a harmful gas.
We cannot be sure that we will be able to watch our baby every second of the time so it is better if we make sure that our fireplace is safe for our babies at all times. One way to do that is to baby-proof our fireplace. Is it your first time hearing about baby-proofing your fireplace? Are you curious on how you can do that? Do you want to baby-proof your fire-place? Here are simple steps on how to baby-proof your fireplace. But before we proceed, let us first have some information on baby-proofing a fireplace.
Things that you need to Baby-proof Your Fireplace
A glass door not only decreases the potential of injury to your baby but it also helps in preventing carbon monoxide from getting into your home. Before purchasing a fireplace glass door, make sure that you have correctly measured your fireplace’s dimensions first. Also, determine the style of fireplace that you have.
There are two fireplace door styles – the traditional masonry fireplace door and the modern zero-clearance fireplace door. Masonry fireplace is made from stone, brick, and mortar, and do not have a metal chimney or liner system while zero-clearance fireplace is made from metal, with more complex frames.
Also, you can choose how you want your fireplace door to fit. It can either be an “inside” fit or an “overlap fit”. The inside fit allows your glass door to exactly fit in your fireplace opening while an overlap fit allows your glass door to be put over the top of your fireplace’s opening. Other things that you can look for in choosing your fireplace glass door are the door styles, glass materials, and frame materials. You can choose from any of these depending on your taste, your purpose, and your budget.
Putting a gate in your fireplace will fully prevent your baby from having access on your fireplace. There are metal fireplace fences that you can purchase and easily set up around your fireplace. Some of these have gates while some have not. They also come in different designs and shapes that you can choose from.
If you want to save money or be more creative, you can also make a “do it yourself” fence using materials available in your house. Just make sure that the materials you use for the fence are heat-resistant and flame retardant. When setting up a fireplace fence, you can choose or do any design you want as long as you make sure that what you build is secure and stable.
Carbon Monoxide Detector
Having a carbon monoxide detector near your fireplace allows you to determine whether your fireplace in emitting unsafe levels of carbon monoxide, which is a harmful gas. Thus, this will protect you from unexpected carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide detectors have sensors which detect the presence of carbon monoxide and trigger the alarm. The alarm only resets when the place becomes free of carbon monoxide again. If, in any case, the alarm goes off, make sure that everyone comes out of the premise and get fresh air. You should then call the assistance of professionals.
Drills, Screws, and Screwdrivers
You will need these materials to attach certain parts to the wall or concrete when setting up or installing your fireplace glass doors and fence.
How to Baby-proof Your Fireplace
Step 1. Consider the Possible Threats to Your Baby in the Fireplace
The obvious threat we can see for our baby to encounter in a fireplace is to be burned when they come too close to the fireplace or, if your fireplace have glass doors, if they touch the glass doors. A very effective solution to this is to fully prevent your child to have an access to your fireplace by putting a gate around your fireplace.
Another thing that you should consider is the carbon monoxide gas, emitted by your fireplace during burning. A good way to avoid it is to seal your fireplace with glass doors and clean your vents regularly. Another threat is the hearth where your baby may trip on or bump into.
To prevent your baby from getting hurt, it will be good to put a hearth pad that is both soft and heat retardant. This way, your baby will not get hurt even if he/she accidentally bumped into it or tripped on it. However, if you already put up a fence around your fireplace, this will not be necessary.
Step 2. Put a Glass Door
Aside from protecting your baby from the flame, putting glass doors in your fireplace also prevents your baby from inhaling the harmful gas, carbon monoxide, which is emitted during incomplete burning. The glass door stops the smoke and other gasses from going off into your house so it has nowhere to escape except through the vents.
This will not only protect your baby but will also protect your family from carbon monoxide poisoning. Since installing a glass door to your fireplace on your own may be hard especially when you don’t have the right tools, you may buy a glass door that fits your fireplace and your taste and ask a professional to install it for you.
Step 3. Put up a Fence
This is one of the most important steps on how to baby-proof your fireplace. Putting up a fence rids your baby of any access to the fireplace so you will not have to worry about possible accidents like being burned, tripping on the hearth, or being pinched by the glass door. When choosing what kind of fence to put, do not go for free-standing ones since these can easily be pushed or pulled down by your baby or can easily fall over if your baby leans on it. Worse is that your baby may fall into the fireplace when that happens. A good fence that you can put around your fireplace is heat resistant and does not conduct heat well so that it does not easily get hot around the fireplace.
Also, choose a fence that you can screw into the wall so that you can be sure that it is secure. Another feature of a good fireplace fence is that it has a gate so that you can have easy access to the fireplace whenever you need to do something to it. Just make sure that the gate cannot be opened by your baby.
Step 4. Clean Your Vents Regularly
Your fireplace has vents so that smoke, including carbon monoxide can escape, so you should regularly clean it so that the harmful gas has somewhere to escape to, instead of escaping to the inside of your home. Your vents can accumulate residues or soot that can clog it and prevent the passage of air and release of smoke and gas. If gas is not properly released, it may accumulate inside of your fireplace and find another place to escape to.
If you have not closed your fireplace’s glass door well, the smoke, including the harmful carbon monoxide may go off inside your house. You will not want this to happen especially when your baby is playing near your fireplace. Thus, cleaning your fireplace is very important so that all the smoke and gases produced by burning can smoothly escape through your vent.
Step 5. Have a Carbon Monoxide Detector Near Your Fireplace
When thinking about how to baby-proof your fireplace, we usually forget to consider the dangers that carbon monoxide gas may pose to our babies and also to us. In the US, there are around 4,000 deaths a year due to carbon monoxide poisoning, a significant number of which is due to poorly maintained chimneys.
Also, lower levels of exposure to the gas may also cause illness. Carbon monoxide gas is hard to detect because we cannot see or smell it. In order to protect our baby from this threat, and make sure that our home is safe from unsafe levels of carbon monoxide, it is very important that we have a carbon monoxide detector near our fireplace. Carbon monoxide detectors alarm when they detect dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.
I hope this article helped you learn on how to baby-proof your fireplace. Having a fireplace at home adds to the coziness and warmth at your house, however, if you have a baby at home, this place may be unsafe for him/her. Since it cannot be helped that your baby maybe drawn to the flickering flames of the fireplace, it is best that you consider every possible dangers for your baby and make ways to avoid them.
To prevent your baby from being hurt in your fireplace, it is necessary that you make it a safe place for him/her. However, if you want the most effective solution, I recommend that you put up a secure fence so you can keep your baby away from it. Also, don’t forget to prevent carbon monoxide gas from going off your house and always monitor it.
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