10 Fireplace Safety Tips for Children, the Elderly, and Pets

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Many Drexel Hill and Springfield area homeowners have children, pets, and elderly or disabled family members living with us. It is our responsibility as homeowners, parents, and caregivers to make sure that our fireplace and hearth are safe for those who live in or visit our home. Here are 10 safety measures you can take to protect your loved ones from harm surrounding the fireplace and hearth.

  1. Educate: Knowledge is power. Knowledge of how to drive a vehicle gives us the power to drive and knowledge of fire safety will help keep us safe around the fireplace. Teach those you love about the dangers of fire and how to avoid injury around the fireplace. Work with children from a very young age so they learn how to respect fire.
  2. Never Leave them Unattended: Children and pets are very curious, and elderly people or people with mobility problems can become unbalanced and fall when you’re not available to steady them. Never leave children, pets, the elderly, or people with mobility problems alone in the room with a fireplace or unprotected hearth.
  3. Annual Inspection and Cleaning: Creosote is the primary cause of chimney fires and it builds up rather quickly when the chimney is used often. An annual chimney inspection and cleaning will help ensure that your fireplace and chimney are in proper working order.
  4. Hearth Protection: The hearth is usually between six and 10 inches high and made of stone, brick, or a faux material that resembles stone or brick. Sharp corners are very dangerous for young children and the elderly. Make sure to install protection to keep those corners covered so a fall isn’t quite so devastating.
  5. Tool Storage: Keep all fireplace tools like the poker and shovel out of reach of children. These tools generally have heavy duty metal handles to prevent burns and they can cause serious damage to children if they topple them over.
  6. Fireplace Screen: Everyone loves a nice crackling fire, but each one of those crackling sounds is a potential ember being formed. Those little popping embers can cause fire on the carpet or burn any person or animal sitting nearby. A fireplace screen will help keep those embers in check.
  7. Fireplace Door: A glass fireplace door is a wonderful idea if you have a curious baby, toddler, or pet. Glass doors allow you to maintain the ambience in the room without putting your child or pet at risk for burns.
  8. Gate: A baby gate or some other type of sturdy gate surrounding the perimeter of the fireplace and hearth will keep children and pets at a safer distance.
  9. Remove Combustibles: Decorations make the fireplace and hearth look pretty amazing, but they can also be a fire hazard. Make sure to keep all combustibles at least three feet away from the opening of the fireplace, and teach others in your household to keep artwork and other combustibles away as well.
  10. Obey Distance Rules: As we just mentioned, keep everything at least three feet away from the opening of the firebox. Don’t take the chance that your child’s coloring book or wooden blocks may catch fire while they’re playing or quietly coloring. Put all pet bedding at least three feet away from the firebox opening as well.

Please keep in mind that you are the homeowner. You are the parent or caregiver. You are responsible for keeping people safe around your hearth. Don’t rely entirely on a fireplace screen, glass door, or baby gate for protection. Always be present and alert so you can catch problems before they occur. Call Lou Curley’s Chimney Service at 610-626-2439 if you’d like to schedule an appointment with one of our CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps

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