The warming heat generated by a fireplace is probably the most pleasant thing you can have on cold winter nights. However, having an infant and a fireplace in the same household can be tricky and a bit dangerous. Your child is very curious and the flickering flames could potentially lure it towards it. This is why baby proofing fireplace is a very important thing to do once there is another member in your family!
About a third of the USA population has a fireplace in their home according to the US Fire Administration. This means that there are a lot of parents who need a baby proof fireplace to have a safe environment for their child.
Safety Gates for a Fireplace
You should get a baby gate if you plan on using your fireplace while your child is in the house. Having one of these will ensure you that there’s no way for your child to get hurt, no matter that it detracts from the aesthetic. However, you have to make sure that you buy a baby gate that is suitable for a fireplace. In other words, the baby gate you buy for your baby proof fireplace needs to secure the walls. Free-standing baby gates simply won’t work since they can fall pretty easily and cause even more injuries. The gate you decide to buy also needs an opening so you can enter the area whenever you want to without too much hassle.
Sparks and popping embers are very common if you have a wood-burning fireplace. To protect your child if you have one of these, you will have to install the gate farther back to keep your child safe from the fire. However, your gate can be positioned a lot closer if you have a gas fireplace. Another common injury is hot glass burns from fireplaces. A baby gate will also help you to protect your child from this. Statistics say that hot fireplace surfaces cause third-degree burns for more than 200 children every year.
Another reason why you should get a gate if you have a wood-burning fireplace is your stabby and sharp fireplace tools. In case you don’t have a gate you will have to leave these tools in a cabinet and you may find annoying to access them every time you need to check the fire.
However, safety gates won’t help you to deal with the problem of carbon monoxide that a fireplace will certainly produce. So, if you decide to have an open fireplace maybe you should think about it again if you want to keep your child away from this dangerous gas. Carbon monoxide accumulates very fast and you don’t want to keep your child in a house filled with it.
The Fireplace Screen
A fireplace screen is very similar to a baby gate. It is a fence that you have to stretch around your hearth and fireplace. You will then have to secure the screen to both sides of the wall of the fireplace. However, this does not mean that you won’t have to pay attention to your kid after you install it. There are models with an opening included that you can use to easier access the fireplace whenever you have to. Adding wood and cleaning around the fireplace is easy with the screen.
The Play Yard
A play yard will keep your baby in a single place for a long time. When it comes to a baby-proofing fireplace, play yards are very functional since they usually have bars that will allow you to have a clear view of your baby. Also, you can find them made of many different materials, so you can fit your aesthetic needs. A play yard will keep your child away from the fireplace, but it will also keep your baby away from the rest of the house. This allows you to think less about your baby getting hurt since you will always know where it is.
However, you have to remember that your fireplace is still going to be exposed, even when your child is in the play yard. So, make sure that the play yard is far away from the fireplace for this method to be effective.
If you want to go with something that will make your baby proof fireplace safe enough, you should get a 3-in-1 gate. You can use this type of a gate as a fireguard or a playpen. Besides, restricting access to certain areas of your house can also be done with this type of gate. New parents usually use these to cut off access to stairs if they are not using them at a fireplace.
You can also get some extension pieces if you need a larger fence or a play yard. Also, different materials help with matching the gate to the rest of your house. However, people usually use metal or wooden ones. Another reason why you should get this type of gate is that you can use them outside when the hot days come.
Baby Proofing a Hearth
Almost every fireplace has a hearth, and t is a flat area or a ledge that is around the fireplace. Its main purpose is to provide an area for the embers that jump out of your fireplace from igniting your room. Usually, these are made out of brick or stone.
The most important thing you should know when baby proofing fireplace is that there are two main types of hearths. The first one is raised above the ground level and it sits leveled with your fireplace that also has to be raised. The second type just sits almost on the same level as your floor.
As you already know, solid objects are usually a safety hazard to your baby. The same goes for the hearths. Since the corners are not leveled your little one can easily trip and fall. This will lead to serious injuries due to sharp and solid corners. This is why raised hearths can be dangerous for your child (same as coffee table corners). It is always smart to put a fence around your fireplace to restrict your baby from getting hurt.
It is always better to go with a flat hearth if you want a baby proof fireplace. All you have to do is a soft mat that you can use to cover the surface. A mat will secure the area and make it soft if your baby ever happens to fall on it. However, you have to keep in mind to remove the mat whenever your fireplace is in use, for obvious reasons.
You will have to find an alternative solution to soften up the edges and corners if you have a stepped hearth. Protecting your baby from bruises and bumps that a hearth may cause is always good is always easy with hearth pads. These are the same protection items that you would use to prevent your baby to bump into a coffee table. Hearth pads are very good when you’re working on your baby proofing fireplace since they are usually made of flame retardant foam. So, even if a bit of fire ever falls on the pad it won’t catch on fire.
Hearth pads usually have a double-sided tape included and it helps you to hold the pads in place. However, you have to remember to clean the hearth regularly of any dust and dash so you can easily tape the pads to the surface.
The bad thing about hearth pads is that kids are usually able to remove them – which is something you don’t want to be the case with your baby proof fireplace. A solution to this is to get an adjustable hearth guard. This type of a hearth guard will clamp and will leave no permanent damages that will require you to do fixings that sometimes cost too much.
The Top of the Hearth
Your baby is very curious and will, without a doubt, try to climb the hearth. This will be hard, but very rewarding for your child if it succeeds. So, if you notice that your baby tries to climb the hearth often you have to make sure to soften the top area of it. To do this, all you need is a hearth cushion that you will place at the top of the hearth.
A heart cushion is nothing else than a giant pillow. The only difference is that hearth cushions can usually withstand fire with no problems – meaning that an ember won’t set it on fire and cause even more damage.
Some parents find hearth pads to be unpleasant for an eye or ineffective – which is why they try to make their own baby proofing fireplace hearth pads. Also, parents usually like to combine the functionality of baby proof items with aesthetics to fit in with the general look of the house.
You can, of course, always make your hearth protector. All you are going to need is interlocking flooring. To be more specific, you should look for the foam floor mats if you want to do this. The foam will provide enough safety for your child if it ever falls against the hearth.
To start, you are just going to need to get the exact measures of your hearth so you can determine how many tiles you need for your new hearth protector. You will usually come across square feet measurement when buying this type of tiles since they are usually used for flooring. Just perpendicularly assemble the tiles once you have them. Repeat the process until your hearth protector is done.
Another good reason to make your hearth protector is that you can use these tiles as a play mat for your child when you are not using it for the hearth. Also, you have to keep in mind that these floor tiles are usually not resistant to fire so you will have to remove them from the hearth whenever you use the fireplace.
Glass Fireplace Doors
Glass doors are very common among gas fireplaces. These can be dangerous to your baby no matter how aesthetically pleasing they look. Glass doors will get hot due to the fire inside. You have to keep in mind that the doors will get so hot that they will stay hot even after the fire is turned off. The best option for you is probably to get a baby fence if you have a gas fireplace. The reasons are obvious – the fence will stop your baby from touching the glass doors.
Another problem with glass doors is that your child’s fingers can get pinched. Bifold fireplace doors are specifically very dangerous to kids due to the mentioned reason. This is why they pose a threat even during summer. You need to keep an eye on your child and never let it near the bifold fireplace doors. To deal with this you should simply buy a door lock for your fireplace. You can find this very easily. It is two bars that you have to put on the bottom and top of the handles. Doing this will effectively keep the door shut and prevent your child from getting pinched.
Baby Planet Overview
Having a fireplace is comfy and most of us prefer to have one in our house. However, it can be a very dangerous part of our homes if we have small kids around it. This is why we have to do everything we can to secure the area the best we can.
Use a baby gate to restrict access to the fireplace for your baby. Also, make sure your hearth is softened in case your baby ever falls on it. Making your hearth pads can be fun for you while doing a good thing for your little one.
- How to baby proof an open fireplace, niftythriftymom.com