Fireplace Safety

October 29, 2013 | Tower Hill Insurance

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On a chilly evening, a fireplace is always a welcoming sight for guests and family. However, leaving a fire unattended even for a few moments or not properly maintaining your fireplace can have devastating consequences.

In less than five minutes the glass doors on a fireplace can heat up to 400 degrees (F) and take nearly an hour to cool down when the fire is out. This means that touching the glass doors or metal frame can easily result in second- or third-degree burns, which is especially dangerous for toddlers who naturally love to explore and are still unsteady on their feet.

A recent study conducted over a period of 10 years found during that time more than 2,000 children under the age of five suffered burn injuries related to glass fireplace doors. It takes only seconds to get a serious burn, and third-degree burns require surgery and skin grafts. Be sure to use a sturdy screen in front of the glass door to help prevent anyone, especially children, from accidentally brushing against or leaning against the glass.

Here are some helpful tips. . . .

  • Have your chimney inspected by a licensed chimney sweep each year, to be sure it is free of debris and safe to use.
  • Add a heat-proof child lock on fireplace doors.
  • Be sure to keep toys, dog beds, paper, and all flammable material several feet away from the fire.
  • Do not burn paper, gift wrap, cardboard, or treated wood in your fireplace.
  • Routinely check to be sure both your carbon-monoxide detector and smoke alarms are working properly, plus have a fire extinguisher nearby.
  • Make sure the fire is completely out before going to sleep.
  • Dispose of ashes carefully.

For more on fireplace and home fire safety, visit the U.S. Fire Administration and the Consumer Product Safety Commission websites.