Fireplaces can be a major selling point for homes, and are perfect for cheering up those dreary winter nights. When there are children in the family, however, your fireplace may require a few childproofing measures to make sure that there are no accidents. Here are 10 ways to help make your fireplace a bit more kid-friendly so that you can keep your little ones safe:
Install a Gate – There are several different models of fireplace gates on the market that are designed to keep the entire fireplace area out of reach of little ones. Depending on the design of your fireplace, this may be all you need to ensure that several unsafe aspects of the fireplace are covered in one fell swoop.
Invest in Hearth Padding – Hearth padding might not be the prettiest thing in the world, but it installs quickly and is instrumental in protecting new walkers from scrapes and serious spills against the unforgiving brick of your hearth.
Keep Tools Out of Reach – The decorative stands next to most fireplaces that contain pokers, shovels and other tools are often overlooked by parents, but they can be very dangerous when inquisitive little hands are around. These are a particular hazard to school-aged children, who may be tempted to play with these metal tools and could end up accidentally causing injury to themselves or others.
Install Doors or Grates – Keeping children out of the fireplace isn’t just a problem when there’s a fire crackling in it, it can also pose an issue when it isn’t in use; curious kids typically want to explore, and can end up breathing in harmful substances or otherwise injuring themselves when there isn’t a door or grate keeping the fireplace closed off from them. These doors also come in heat-resistant varieties that can be kept closed while the fireplace is in use, so parents are able to enjoy the sight of the fire without running the risk of kids falling into it.
Store Ignition Sources Out of Reach – Matches, lighters, fuels and ignition keys for gas fireplaces should be stored in an out-of-reach, preferably secret area of your home to keep kids from attempting to create their own fire while you’re out of the room.
Use What You Have – If there isn’t much room in your budget, blocking access to the fireplace with your existing furniture can be a good, albeit temporary, solution. Keep your eyes open and you’ll be surprised what you can come up with.
Create Boundaries – As soon as your child is old enough to understand, teaching them about boundaries and the necessity of leaving the fireplace alone is one of the absolute best methods of childproofing. When your child understands and respects those boundaries, you can start to undo some of your baby-proofing as he or she outgrows them.
Determine The Needs of Your Particular Family – If your fireplace is in a formal living room that’s rarely used, it might be better to install a lock on that door to create an adults-only zone than it is to install individual safety measures.
Install Door Guards – Fireplaces with existing folding glass doors should be secured with inexpensive guards that prevent kids from opening the doors and pinching delicate fingers in the hinges and such.
Consider Permanent Solutions – If your fireplace is non-functional or never used, it might be a good idea to consider blocking the opening off altogether and lowering the hearth until it’s level with the floor. Fireplaces that aren’t functional simply aren’t worth the safety risk they pose.
The amount of childproofing and the measures you take are all a matter of what works best for your family and home. For some families, a minimal amount of modification is all that they feel they need, while others completely overhaul their home when they bring a new bundle of joy into it.