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Do’s and Don’ts: Gas Fireplace Safety

Home is where the heart is, but if you’re not careful around your fireplace, it may end up warming more than just your heart. Unlike wood-burning fireplaces, gas fireplaces heat your home with a simple flip of a switch and don’t need to be restocked. But they’re more than just a functional decoration — if not treated with care, they may present a safety risk. To avoid accidents, keep these tips in mind.

Do:

Use safety screens

As of 2015, vented gas fireplaces are required to have a protective screen over the glass, which can reach temperatures of up to 500°F during use. Screens reduce the risk of direct contact with the glass and — as a result — serious burns.

Have the fireplace inspected annually

Yearly maintenance is required to ensure the fireplace is operating properly. Schedule the yearly checkup for a week before you plan to start using the fireplace again. If your system is vented, clean the chimney and ventilation system.

Install carbon monoxide detectors

Vent-free fireplaces come with oxygen depletion sensors that shut the system down if they detect dangerous levels of carbon monoxide, and vented fireplaces remove carbon monoxide from your home via the chimney. But in case of a dangerous malfunction, a detector will be the first to alert you to the presence of the odorless and colorless gas.

Don’t:

Touch an active fireplace

Even with protective measures, the surfaces surrounding the fireplace retain heat and shouldn’t be touched while in use. After turning it off, wait at least 30 minutes before attempting to touch or clean the fireplace.

Put furniture too close

Decorations may look pretty when the fireplace isn’t on, but gas fireplaces could ignite any object close by. Keep newspapers, books, blankets, rugs and other flammable objects at least 3 feet away while you enjoy the warmth of the fire.

Leave children unmonitored

Even though glass panels and safety screens stop little hands and paws from making contact with the fire, kids and pets shouldn’t be left alone around gas fireplaces. Add a child-proof switch or safety cover so the flame isn’t ignited accidentally.

Although gas fireplaces are a convenient way to heat your home without burning wood, a simple mistake could leave you vulnerable to serious accidents. Keep safety in mind when operating your gas fireplace, and you and your family will stay warm and cozy.