Fireplaces can be safe for babies just as adults provided that you take measures to keep them safe. This means that you watch over them while they are playing around a wood-burning fireplace or any other type of fireplace.
So, what are some of the dangers of having a wood-burning fireplace with a baby around? I look at the possible dangers and also how you can keep the dangers to a minimum.
Possible Dangers Of Wood-Burning Fireplaces To Babies
- Carbon monoxide
Lack of ventilation can always lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Such poisoning is quite harmful as it can easily lead to death.
If you have a wood-burning fireplace, then consider having proper ventilation in the room. This would help in improving the air quality in the house especially if you have a baby.
You could also invest in carbon monoxide detectors in different parts of the house. This also includes one in the baby’s sleeping area. Whenever the alarm goes off, take your baby out of the house and call for help.
- Respiratory illness
Babies inhaling smoke from a wood-burning fireplace can lead to breathing difficulties. It is the same thing in adults too. However, it can be severe in babies since they are susceptible to allergies and asthma.
I would like to point out that a wood-burning fireplace is not the only source for respiratory illness considering it is not used more often. However, if you have wood stoves, make sure there is proper ventilation to reduce incidences of coughs and respiratory illnesses in children.
Children love to touch almost anything around the house and this can include a fireplace glass door. We tend to think that a glass door will prevent sparks from burning the babies, but we forget how such glass doors can get really hot.
Standard glass doors on the fireplace can reach temperatures of 500 degrees. This is definitely a hazard for babies. When the baby touches the glass, it can lead to serious burns.
You will come across various types of burns. A minor burn can make the hands red without leading to blisters. However, serious burns will lead to oozing and blistering. Get the child to a doctor as soon as possible in case of severe burns.
The first aid to treating burns is running the affected area under cool water. Some apply butter or toothpaste to the burns. Do not do this as it will be painful to scrub them off later.
How To Keep A Baby Safe Around a Fireplace
Fireplace injuries can scar your baby for life. It is the reason you have to consider the following tips to help in keeping the baby safe around a fireplace.
- Get a gate for your fireplace
The most obvious way of babyproofing a fireplace would be having a gate around the fireplace. This is because sometimes you might be busy working on something and the baby ends up touching the flames in the fireplace.
Ensure that the gate is placed at a safe distance from the fireplace. In case it is too close, the baby can be hit with the sparks from the burning wood if you do not have a fireplace glass.
- Get a fireplace door
Fireplace doors can be a nice addition to your fireplace even if there is a fireplace gate already in position. The fireplace door will come in handy in improving the fireplace efficiency while keeping the sparks from reaching the baby. The same thing applies to containing the smoke from a wood-burning fireplace.
- Perform maintenance to your fireplace
Maintenance will involve things such as cleaning the chimney and ensuring the damper or flue is working correctly.
A damper is supposed to be open while starting the fire. This helps in drawing as much smoke out of the house as possible. This definitely keeps the chances of carbon monoxide to a minimum.
Your chimney needs to be checked annually for creosote and soot. Even when the chimney is not yet due for a clean-up, let it be checked for dealing with any emerging issues.
- Attend to the fireplace always
Even if you do not have a baby in the house, you should never leave a wood-burning fireplace unattended. You should always ensure to put it out before going to bed or even leaving the house.
The areas around the fireplace would still be hot even after putting it out. So, leave the room with the baby to avoid burns while not around.
- Prevention is always better
One way of preventing accidents would be putting the fireplace accessories and tools out of reach for children. This includes matches and lighters.
Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in a room with a fireplace. Ensure their batteries are replaced once a year to keep them in good working condition.
Talk to the children about the dangers of fireplaces and how they can use them responsibly.