Gathering the family around a crackling fire may be cozy and fun in the winter, but all types of fireplaces are a potential hazard to your little ones, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Kids need to be supervised around wood-burning fires as well as around gas and electric fireplaces, the group warns. It notes that children should be taught early on about fire safety and the risks of serious burns.
The academy provides these tips to prevent fireplace-related accidents and injuries:
- Crack a window while a fire is burning to ensure proper ventilation.
- Make sure the damper or flue is open before starting a fire. Keep it open until the fire is completely out to keep smoke out of the house.
- Never burn wet or green wood. Make sure firewood is dry and well-aged to cut down on smoke and prevent soot buildup.
- Burn smaller pieces of wood on a grate.
- Remove ashes from previous fires. A thick layer of ash under burning logs can restrict air flow, producing extra smoke.
- Have the chimney professionally checked for nests and other blockages each year even if it doesn’t need to be cleaned.
- Do not put flammable furniture, curtains, books or papers near a fireplace.
- Never leave a fire unattended. Do not go to bed until a fire is completely out.
- Never leave a young child near a fireplace that is still hot.
- Place a safety screen in front of a fireplace to prevent burns from touching hot glass.
- Be sure all fireplace tools and accessories, especially lighters and matches, are stored where kids can’t get them.
- Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Test them monthly and change batteries at least once a year.
- Keep a fire extinguisher nearby.
The U.S. Fire Administration provides more information on children and fire safety.