Fire isn't the only danger associated with your fireplace.

Fireplace Safety for Toddlers

by Maggie McCormick

The fireplace can add ambiance and affordable heat to your home in winter, but it can also add a major danger to your home, especially when you have a toddler toddling about. Falling into the fireplace -- or the glass covering it -- can cause serious burns to your toddler. Safety should be of the utmost importance if you have a fireplace and a toddler.

Educate Your Child

As soon as your child can move on her own, stress that she should stay clear of the fireplace. If you catch her wandering close, say, "No, it's hot." As she gets older, you can reason with her more and even offer rewards for staying away. The glass of the fireplace will stay hot -- up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit -- even after the fire has burned out, so teach her to stay away even when she can't see a fire.

Gate the Area

The safest action is to set up a gate in a wide area away from the fireplace. Not only will that prevent curiosity from drawing her closer to the fire, it will also prevent accidents occurring from unsteady toddler legs. Gates should be tall enough that your toddler cannot climb over and sturdy enough that toppling over is not a risk. Yes, this will look ugly, but it's better than an injured child. Even with a gate, keep a close eye on her when she wanders near it.

Combustion Spillage

Combustion spillage -- combustion gases leaking from your fireplace into your home -- can cause health concerns, ranging from the occasional headache to carbon monoxide poisoning, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. Little lungs can face even more damage. This is more common in older fireplaces, which might not have been properly designed. Even if you do have a newer fireplace, call in a professional to inspect the chimney for blockages at least once a year. This is not an area where you want to save money.

Fireplace Accessories

The fireplace itself isn't the only danger for your toddler. You probably also have a fireplace tool set nearby, including a small shovel, brush, poker and log tool. These are usually made from heavy metals, which can easily topple over and harm your child. Not only that, but your child is probably attracted to them and wants to try using them the same way that you do. Keep these items safe from your toddler as well.

About the Author

Maggie McCormick is a freelance writer. She lived in Japan for three years teaching preschool to young children and currently lives in Honolulu with her family. She received a B.A. in women's studies from Wellesley College.

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