Gathering around an outdoor fire is a tradition for many families, and the evenings roasting marshmallows and telling stories provide cherished memories that last a lifetime. When enjoying an outdoor fire with children, however, you must take care. If you get an outdoor fireplace, follow these tips to help the youngest members of your family stay safe.
Keep Fire-Starting Items Out of Reach
Any fire-starting materials you have should be kept up high where small children aren’t able to reach. Lighters and matches, obviously, should be kept out of reach of young children. These aren’t the only fire-starting materials to consider, though.
If you’re installing a gas outdoor fireplace that’s started by the simple flick of a switch, the switch itself should be located somewhere that young children won’t be able to reach.
You may want the switch installed higher than a typical light switch would be. If that’s not possible, having the switch located at a normal height but along a wall that’s barricaded by a counter will make the switch less accessible. A switch located along the backsplash of a counter will look natural if you’re also getting an outdoor kitchen.
At the very least, no outdoor fireplace switch should be located right on the side of the fireplace and just a few feet off the ground. Although this may be a convenient place to install the switch, it’s too easy for toddlers to reach the switch and turn on the fireplace.
Guard Kindling and Accelerants
If you use any form of kindling or accelerant to help start fires, keep these separate from where matches and lighters are located.
In the event that an unattended child accidentally gains access to matches or lighters, you certainly don’t want them playing with the fire-starting items next to lighter fluid or something similar. Kids should never play with these items, but doing so near an accelerant only makes the situation more dangerous.
Teach Children Not to Use the Fireplace by Themselves
All children should be taught not to use the outdoor fireplace by themselves. Younger children shouldn’t use it unattended at all, and older children who are mature enough and have been properly trained to supervise the fireplace still shouldn’t start it without an adult present. If something goes wrong, a parent or other responsible adult should be nearby to immediately respond appropriately.
Moreover, kids should be consistently reminded to not use the fireplace alone so that the rule is ingrained in their heads. Kids will likely be outside without a parent nearby at some point in time, and they must know not to go near the fireplace.
Create a Border Around the Fireplace
Creating a border around your outdoor fireplace provides a physical barrier and visual reminder to stay away. A border will prevent really young children from getting too close to a fireplace and burning themselves. Such a barrier will also keep older kids from absentmindedly wandering too near the fireplace.
If you’re wary of the appearance a barrier would have, know that a border doesn’t necessarily need to be purely utilitarian. With a little creativity, beautiful borders can be created using stones, tables and other furniture, artwork, and other items.
Get an Outdoor Fireplace Rather Than a Firepit
When children’s safety is a concern, an outdoor fireplace is preferable to a firepit.
A firepit is open, which can lead to the occasional spark flying out from the fire. While adults know to stay away from firepits because of this risk, children might be too enamored and creep a little too close.
Since an outdoor fireplace keeps the fire entirely contained within an enclosed space, flying sparks hitting children isn’t as much of a concern.
To get an outdoor fireplace for your home, contact Alpine Fireplaces.