Fireplace Safety Tips for Pet Owners
Your new fireplace completes your vision of a comfortable home. You already have cushy furniture in your front room, and you’ve adorned your floors with plush carpets or rugs. You even have a few animal friends who share your home. But you worry that your fireplace and your pets won’t mix together well. After all, pets may feel curious about the fire and the soot, and they might not understand your warnings.
So how do you keep your pets safe when you have a fireplace? You shouldn’t throw up your hands and just remove the fireplace you and your pets deserve to have a warm, cozy place to relax. Simply use the tips below to ensure your pets never get into trouble.
- Train your pet to stay away from the fireplace.
You probably trained your pets not to chew on your shoes, scratch your furniture, or climb your curtains. You probably trained them to play more gently with you and not to bite or scratch. Now you have to train them to stay away from the fireplace. Some pets will stay away naturally because their instincts tell them that fire could harm them. Other will approach the fireplace with curiosity.
When they approach the fireplace, use verbal cues to warn them away. Remember to praise them when they move away. If verbal cues don’t work, you can also use a squirt bottle. But don’t forget to use caution if you have excitable pets. You don’t want them to panic and accidentally run into the fireplace. Even if your fireplace has a screen on it, the fire’s heat could still scald your pets.
- Put a mesh, grate cover, glass door, or gate in front of the fire.
At the very least, put a mesh in front of your fire. The mesh will allow heat and light through, but it will keep any curious paws from trying to touch the flames. However, a mesh, grate cover, or glass door will also absorb heat from the fire and become hot enough to burn. Protect your pets by putting an additional layer, a gate, in front of your fireplace. The gate will still let heat through, but it will keep your pets safer.
- Never leave your pet alone with the fire.
Think of the things your pets do when they think you can’t see them. They probably jump on the table or go through the garbage can looking for treats. They may only claw your sofas or eat your socks when they think you can’t see. Imagine what they’ll do if they start thinking about your fireplace the same way. For this reason, you should never leave them alone in a room with burning flames.
If you have to leave the room, take your pets with you. Or you can leave them under someone else’s supervision. But no matter what, an adult human should always stay in the room to control the fire and protect the animals.
- Don’t play with your pet near the fire.
Excitable pets often let all their inhibitions go, so they’ll act crazy when you play with them. Don’t let playtime turn into an accident. Only play in this room if you have extinguished the fire, and take playtime elsewhere if the fire still burns. This strategy will prevent any tragic accidents.
- Remove all pet toys from the room.
Even if your pets play by themselves, they could still become riled up or accidentally fling their toys into the fire. And if they try to retrieve their toys, they could light the carpet or upholstery on fire. For this reason, you should keep string, balls, and all other toys out of the room.
- Keep garlands and all other hanging objects off your mantle.
Pets may want to leap at and play with anything hanging off your mantle. Remove this temptation by only using decorations that don’t dangle over the edge.
- Keep curtains, furniture, stacks of paper, and other items away from your hearth.
A similar principle applies here. Even though these items don’t hang from your mantle, they may still sit near your fireplace. And if your pets play with these objects, they could knock them nearer the fire. Move them all away to eliminate this risk.
- Open and close the damper at appropriate times.
When your fire burns, the damper lets smoke out through your chimney. When you’ve smothered your fire, the damper closes and traps heat inside your home. But if you forget to open your damper when you light your fire, smoke and carbon monoxide could seep into your home, which will injure your pets faster than they’ll injure you. Pay close attention to your damper to keep you and your pets safe.
- Put your fireplace tools safely out of reach.
Pets may feel tempted to play with these tools, and they may injure themselves. Put your tools in a cupboard or on a high shelf where your pets, even your birds or cats, can’t reach them.
- Purchase a carbon monoxide detector.
Again, carbon monoxide will have a greater effect on your pets than it will have on you. It could injure or kill them more quickly. Install a carbon monoxide detector to catch this gas before it does any permanent damage.
- Have your fireplace inspected regularly.
If you have an expert inspect and maintain your fireplace at least once a year, it will function as it should, which means it will stay safer for you and your pets.
Use the tips above to keep your pets safe so you can continue to enjoy your fireplace. If you have any further questions, contact your local fireplace expert (http://alpinefireplac.wpengine.com/contact-us/).