In addition to helping cut down ridiculous heating bills, your home’s fireplace provides an elegant focal point and sets the scene for those romantic evenings you keep planning but that never seem to actually happen. More than a third of all American homes use fireplaces and wood stoves as a main heat source -- but how do you keep your home warm with curious kids around? No matter if you use your fireplace once in a blue moon or as a main way to heat your home during the winter, it’s possible to actually build and start a fire without sending any little ones to the ER.
Teach your toddler or preschooler about the dangers of not only fire, but also playing in the fireplace when it's not being used. The fireplace looks like an alluring spot to set up a fort, but it's also a safety hazard even when not in use. Make sure your tot knows that the fireplace is off limits, regardless of whether there's a fire burning or not.
Keep a close eye on your child while the fire is blazing and for at least 45 minutes after it's been extinguished. Waiting at least 45 minutes is also a good idea if you have a gas fireplace, as it can take this long for the glass to cool from temperatures that can quickly reach 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
Install a fireplace safety gate. The gates aren't the most attractive addition to your home's decor, but they are specifically designed to create a custom enclosure around your fireplace. Choose a model that can be constructed or expanded to meet your needs and use it whenever the fire is lit and there are children in the room. Also, resist the temptation to conceal the gates with curtains or fabric, because although decorative, they're both a major fire hazard.