Starting this New Year’s Day, protective barriers around gas-powered fireplaces and fireplace heaters won’t just be a good idea. They will be a requirement. New federal regulations will take effect that day with the aim of preventing severe burns, especially for young children.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the surfaces on the front of gas fireplaces and fireplace heaters that vent to the outside are 500° to 1,000° F when lit. Toddlers and children in a home with an unshielded fireplace are risk of serious injury. CPSC data indicate that more than 3,000 children age 5 and younger have been burned by gas fireplaces and heaters since 2009.
The CPSC urges consumers who buy a new gas fireplace or fireplace heater after Jan. 1, 2015, to use the protective barrier included with the fixture.
These barriers will include attachable safety screens that lift up from the top of the fireplace as well as gates and screens designed to block off the fireplace.
Customers who already have a fireplace should retrofit it with a protective barrier to keep children and others from making direct contact with it. Safety barriers for gas fireplaces are sold at fireplace retailers and hardware stores, while safety gates can be found at most large general merchandise stores and baby product stores. Anyone who wants an attachable screen for their fireplace should check with the manufacturer for availability and sizes.
Safety barriers can greatly reduce the risk of burn injuries, but the CPSC also urges parents and guardians to closely supervise young children when there is a lighted gas stove or heater in the house.