How To Babyproof A Fireplace
What you need to know to keep your family safe.
Few things are more idyllic and relaxing than snuggling up in front of a crackling fireplace on a chilly night. A cozy blanket, a cup of tea, a toddler hurling themselves toward an open flame surrounded by metal and sharp stone edges… there are few things more stressful than trying to keep little kids safe around a fireplace or woodstove. Don’t worry, though — you’ve got tons of options to babyproof your fireplace that are practical and inexpensive. Some are even *gasp* stylish.
How To Babyproof A Fireplace
Before you even think about lighting that fireplace, it is crucial to make sure your entire home is fireproofed. “Babyproofing a fireplace is so much more than finding ways to keep your child away from the fire and heat,” says Jennifer Slavicek, firefighter and safety officer for Bellevue Volunteer Fire Company in Pennsylvania.
Slavicek has seen too many homes use a flimsy, unsafe barrier: They’re not secured to the wall, made of noncombustible materials, and the appropriate distance from the heat source. “Any material, placed too close, can become hot and cause burns. Please keep in mind that if you have fire, the possibility of combustion is always there,” says Slavicek.
The Escape Plan
She also encourages families to invite their local fire department into their home. It is part of their job to help families with fire safety, including coming up with an escape plan and checking smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors. “As a firefighter I have seen too many ways that using a fireplace can go wrong when young children are in the home,” says Slavicek.
Smoke & Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detectors
“Working fireplaces can easily emit CO, a poisonous gas which is odorless, colorless and tasteless. Babies, toddlers, pregnant females, and even pets are especially susceptible to it, so it’s best to have CO alarms throughout the home,” says Sharon Cooksey, a fire safety educator for Kidde. Even if your children are sleeping while you enjoy your fireplace, combustion can quickly affect the whole home. That is why smoke/carbon dioxide alarms, escape ladders, and fire extinguishers are absolutely necessary for any home with a fireplace.
Mantles are also prime spots to perch cute decor, but Cooksey and Slavicek both have seen disasters caused by flammable tchotchkes placed too close to an open flame. Decorate responsibly.
The Best Products To Babyproof A Fireplace
Once you are sure that your home is prepared for an open flame, it’s time to focus on the actual products that protect the hot, sharp, pointy edges of the fireplace itself. (Literally, could anything sound more anti-toddler-friendly than hot, sharp, and pointy?)
As the fire professionals mentioned above, a gate that fully surrounds the firebox, mantle, and hearth is your best line of defense to create a babyproof fireplace. One that is secured to the wall, made of nonflammable materials, and at least 3 feet from the fireplace is best.
This wide baby gate from Qdos Safety on Amazon checks all those boxes. Make sure to also store fireplace tools within the barrier so that tiny hands cannot grab the hot metal poking tools.
For fireplaces that are difficult to gate with a typical surround, it might be key to block off the entire room so that young kids don’t have access. For open floor plans, this Regalo 92-Inch super wide adjustable baby gate and play yard can keep kids and pets safe.
Edge And Corner Guards
Many homes have older fireplaces that are nonfunctional, and other families choose to not use their functional fireplaces due to safety or indoor air quality concerns. Even if your fireplace is not lit, the sharp edges and elevated surface can prove to be a tricky babyproofing puzzle.
There are a variety of products to pad the edges like stick-on Bebe Earth edge and corner guards set. Make sure it’s not in a spot where it can come into contact with the flame as these products can be flammable.
If your fireplace has glass doors, it is important to secure them so that a baby can’t reach inside with a fireplace door lock from Safety Innovations.
No matter what method you choose, if you are thoughtful about following these safety tips for babyproofing a fireplace, your little ones will be safe and secure. Slavicek has seen enough mishaps and begs parents to not cut corners. “Flames are fascinating, and children will try anything to get close to them.”
Jennifer Slavicek, firefighter and safety officer for Bellevue Volunteer Fire Company in Pennsylvania
Sharon Cooksey, a fire safety educator at Kidde