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Glass-Fronted Fireplaces Pose Burn Dangers for Kids
  • Robert Preidt
  • Posted February 15, 2019

Glass-Fronted Fireplaces Pose Burn Dangers for Kids

Glass-fronted gas fireplaces can pose a serious risk to young children, an emergency room physician warns.

Dr. Michael Gittelman, from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, cited the case of a 3-year-old boy whose hand was badly burned when he touched the glass door of the family's gas fireplace.

"Young children, like the boy in my emergency room, are at particular risk for burns from glass-fronted gas fireplaces," Gittelman said in an American Academy of Pediatrics news release.

"This type of fireplace is popular with families since they are easier to use, less expensive, and easier to clean than their wood-burning counterparts. They have become a common feature in more newly constructed homes," he said.

"The problem is that gas fireplaces lack the characteristic smoky smell and crackling sound of an intensely hot flame, and they can reach temperatures as high as 1,328 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition, their glass front can remain hot for even an hour after the fire has been turned off," Gittelman warned.

He cited a previous study published in the Journal of Burn Care and Research that examined how often children are burned by glass-fronted gas fireplaces. Gittelman was one of the study authors.

The 17 burn centers the researchers studied over five years reported 402 injuries, with burns on toddlers' palms accounting for more than 95 percent of these injuries. Up to 11 percent of them were severe enough to require surgery.

"Education and safety measures are urgently needed to help prevent children from being burned by glass-fronted gas fireplaces. Fortunately, new standards were approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission that require all new gas-burning fireplaces to be sold with a safety barrier and information about burn risks," Gittelman said.

He urged families with children who already have a gas fireplace to purchase a barrier or fireplace covering to block curious toddlers from getting near the hot glass.

Even with these barriers in place, families need to closely supervise young children when the fireplace flame is active or recently turned off. Keep close tabs on toddlers when visiting another home or a resort with a gas fireplace.

Other prevention measures include gates to keep young children out of rooms with a fireplace, or not using a gas fireplace when you have toddlers in the house.

More information

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has more on young children and glass-fronted gas fireplaces.

SOURCE: American Academy of Pediatrics, news release, Jan. 28, 2019
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