Health Watch - Warmth: Fireplace Safety

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about staying warm and staying safe. A fire in the fireplace can keep you warm on a cold day while also creating a cozy atmosphere. But the fireplace can also be risky when children are involved.

Dr. M. Douglas Baker, a pediatrician and emergency department physician at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says young children are explorers and may be unsteady on their feet. They may be drawn to the light and color of the flames and get burned by touching the fireplace or from stumbling around it. Even having a glass barrier doesn’t help because the glass gets hot and a child could be burned from touching it. Parents should never leave children unsupervised around a fire. Use barriers to keep them from getting near the fireplace. Parents may consider not turning on gas fireplaces until after children under the age of 5 have gone to bed.

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January 2010

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