With winter on the way, more and more households will be working hard to keep warm. Fireplaces will be cleaned out, storage heaters turned on, and electric heaters dusted off. For families with children, though, keeping warm isn’t the only priority because, although they’re vital in the cold months, heaters can pose safety risks to children. With correct safety precautions, however, any family can stay safe and warm this winter.
Fireplaces are one of the oldest and simplest methods of heating, but can also pose risks to children if not managed properly. Young children are often not accustomed to fire and may not fully understand the threat it can pose. A fireplace screen will keep children safely away from the fire, and can be stored away when the fire is not lit. Fireplace screens for households with very young children often include padding to prevent damage from scratches or impacts. Regular fireplace and chimney cleaning is also important, to reduce the risk of smoke.
Radiators are perhaps the most common form of indoor heating. For most children, these are completely safe, but small children can receive painful burns if they touch the hot metal surface. Households with children often deal with this threat by installing radiator guards. These cages of insulated wire mesh or carved wooden boxes keep little hands a safe distance away from the hot surface of the radiator. Radiator guards can easily be removed once children are old enough to no longer require them. Though many of the wooden radiator guards can be quite decorative and double up as an interior design choice as well as a safety measure.
There are two major varieties of electric heater. Storage heaters use up power during off-peak hours and release heat gradually throughout the day, while simple electric heaters, which may also be fan-assisted, use heated metal elements to generate warm air when switched on. Although the heating elements of an electric heater are typically protected by a mesh guard and thus safe for children, there are some dangers to this form of heating. Placing a covering of any kind over an active electric heater is a fire risk and any toys a child leaves on top of a radiator can get very hot, very quickly. Most other risks are minimal, however; electric heaters usually have shut-off switches that activate when they are tilted or knocked over.
Every kind of heat source comes with its own dangers, from the risk of fire to the chance of a child burning themselves by contact. By taking appropriate safety measures, however, parents can protect their children from any danger of accidental injury.
Kevin Ball is a writer with an interest in family issues. Lately he has been writing for The Economy Radiator Company, which led him to create this article on keeping children safe around heaters. You can follow him on Twitter @KevinBall1982