Gas fireplace safety initiative launches
The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA) today announced an industry-wide safety initiative to protect young children, at-risk individuals and pets from burns resulting from touching glass fronts on gas fireplaces, stoves and inserts when in operation or cooling down. The initiative includes a consumer safety education campaign and a mandatory safety standard for new gas fireplaces manufactured after January 1, 2015.
According to the 2012 Hearth Consumer Survey, nearly 11 million households have a gas fireplace with a glass front, and more than half of those households currently are unaware of the risk of burns from touching the glass fronts. "While gas fireplaces, stoves and inserts are a great asset to any home, the glass can become extremely hot during operation and stay hot long afterwards, creating a potential burn hazard," said Jack Goldman, president & CEO of HPBA. "In the past several years, there have been reports of burns involving young children and others who may not been aware of the potential risk of burns by touching the hot glass and surrounding panels on gas fireplaces, inserts and stoves. And, though we believe these incidents are few and rare, even one is too many."
HPBA and its members have united to protect their customers and families from potential burns from glass-front fireplaces, stoves and inserts. The industry is mounting a consumer safety education program to raise awareness of the potential of burns from hot glass, creating downloadable materials, and developing mandatory safety standards for glass front fireplaces.
"The industry already has begun educating and working with media and safety groups, including the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), to make sure that owners of gas fireplaces, stoves and inserts know that they need to take steps to provide an added level of protection for young children and others who don't understand the risk of touching hot glass," Goldman said.
Specifically, HPBA advises owners of gas fireplaces, stoves and inserts that have glass fronts to observe these safety tips:
- Always supervise children, the aged, infirm or pets near an operating gas fireplace, stove or insert — or one that has recently been turned off.
- Keep the remote control out of the reach of children (if your appliance has one). Install a switch lock to prevent children from turning on the appliance.
- Make sure family members and guests are aware that the glass on a gas fireplace, stove or insert can be very hot.
- Wait for the appliance and glass to cool down before allowing anyone to get near it, noting that the cool down can take a long time — an hour or more. Be aware that metal surfaces, such as door frames and grilles, may also get hot.
- Always read the owner's manual and follow instructions.
"While safety tips provide an extra margin of safety, there are no substitutes for supervision and a physical barrier," Goldman said. Consumers with existing gas fireplaces, stoves or inserts should consider installing a protective screen or physical barrier to reduce the risk of serious burns by preventing direct contact with the glass front. Safety products come in various forms, including:
- Attachable safety screens that fasten to the front of the fireplace to create an air space between the glass and the screen.
- Free-standing safety screens and gates are barriers set up to prevent access.
- Free-standing fireplace screens and barriers are set back from the fireplace or stove front to prevent direct access.
New safety standard
"For the past year, the fireplace industry has been working to develop a new safety standard for gas fireplaces to prevent serious, irreversible burns from hot glass. The CPSC has been monitoring the process," said Goldman. All gas-fired, certified fireplaces manufactured after January 1, 2015 will include a safety screen or protective barrier that must be installed. According to HPBA, more than five million households reported using protective barriers for their existing glass-fronted gas fireplaces. Rigorous testing will ensure these safety screens and barriers are effective in preventing serious, irreversible burns.
Teena Hammond Teena Hammond has published more than 2,000 articles in People and W magazines, Women's Wear Daily, and in dozens of newspapers and books. She also wrote a home improvement, remodeling and decor column that ran in Gannett newspapers nationwide. She's interested in all things green and would love to hear from you with your story ideas.