If your fireplace heats with gas, get a barrier for that hot glass

Gas Fireplace Safety Goes Mainstream in 2015

By PAUL SIDORIAK

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Starting in 2015 all gas fireplaces will be required to have a protective safety barrier to reduce the risk of injury to children and pets. Gas fireplace safety is becoming more and more important for buyersAt the beginning of the year, new glass-fronted fireplaces and heaters must have a protective barrier if their glass doors heat up to more than 172 degrees. With surfaces often reaching 500 degrees and more, a mere touch can cause immediate and serious burns, posing a real danger to children and pets. A new regulation is intended to prevent injuries while providing piece of mind for parents and homeowners.

Research conducted by independent safety consultant Carol Pollack-Nelson, PhD, found that more than 2,000 children ages 5 and younger suffered burn injuries from gas fireplaces from 1999 through March 2000. That’s almost two reported burns per day for the 10-year period. Many may have been preventable.

“After January 1, 2015, all standard, manufactured, gas fireplaces, and gas-fronted heaters will include a protective barrier that reduces the risk of contact injury,” says Tim Campbell. Campbell is the owner of Ironhaus, a manufacturer of gas fireplaces, fireplace doors, and kitchen range hoods in Hamilton, Montana. “Installers will be required to adhere to new safety standards, making sure barriers are in place and secure on all new gas fireplaces,” Campbell said.

Even though the fireplace industry is proactively taking action, common sense still prevails as the best preventive measure for fireplace injuries. Never leave children unattended when operating a gas fireplace insert or stove. Gas fireplaces often take up to an hour to cool, so explaining to children the dangers of being too close to a gas fireplace, lit or not, is extremely important. Remote control thermostat devices should be permanently stored out of reach of children.

In addition to affixed protective barriers, other gas fireplace safety barriers include using securely mounted freestanding safety gates and freestanding fireplace screens. These gas fireplace safety barriers are also good ways of mitigating the risk of injury to children and pets.

The change won’t affect gas fireplaces or heaters manufactured before January 1, but homeowners might start the year considering whether their fireplaces are safe for their families, visitors, and pets. Adding a hand-crafted iron grate can add a beautiful barrier to dangerously hot glass doors. It might become one of the most functional pieces of art in your home.

Campbell says, “Attachable safety screens will affix to new and existing gas fireplaces providing airspace between the hot glass and the screen”. Aftermarket barriers for existing gas fireplaces will be available at specialty retailers, and from custom manufacturers like Ironhaus. Consumers are encouraged to ensure that the fireplace manufacturer has approved any aftermarket attachable screen