Gas Fireplace Safety Just How Hazardous Are Their Glass Faces?
Most gas fireplaces have fixed glass surfaces that are hot and can radiate a lot of heat into the living space. These surfaces may be 500 F during their operation and can stay hot well after the fire is out. These temperatures can certainly cause burns, particularly on the tender hands of infants. Older children and adults are forewarned about the possibility of being burned because of the significant infrared radiation coming off the hot glass surfaces. Unfortunately, infants and small children may not respond to high infrared radiation being a hazard. Gas Fireplace Safety, Just How Hazardous Are Their Glass Faces?
So, what can be done? Several things. Obviously good childhood training about the hazards of fireplaces is very important. But, the attraction of the fire to children and the possibility of a toddler losing balance and falling against a gas fireplace glass are realities, even with good training.
Recently a class action lawsuit against Lennox Hearth Products was settled out of court as indicated in the September 2011 issue of Hearth & Home: www.hearthandhome.com. The suit did not document any personal injuries from Lennox or Superior gas fireplaces, but it alleged that just the possibility of burns reduced the property value of owner’s homes. There were no damages and no homeowners received compensation. However, Lennox Hearth Products had to pay the plaintiff’s attorneys almost 5 million dollars in fees.
Lennox has been proactive on this issue and has developed an optional and free Safety Guard screen for their Lennox and Superior brand gas fireplaces. Be sure to go to http://www.lennoxhearthproducts.com/buying-guide/safety-guard.asp and request a Safety Guard if it is needed in your home. These Safety Guards will not fit other brands of fireplaces.
Lennox is also providing “warning stickers” and adding safety information to their literature and to their owner’s manuals.
So, lets examine the realities of what these 5 million dollars in attorney fees got for consumers.
1. Additional safety information in literature and manuals: This is of no real value. Reality is that 99.999% of parents already know that high levels of infrared radiation from a surface is a safety hazard and the additional safety information about this known fireplace hazard will not improve the quality of parental training of small children. Oh yes, small children cannot read.
2. Warning labels for gas fireplace switches: The same as above. This is of no real value either. Reality is that 99.999% of parents already know that high levels of infrared radiation from a surface is a safety hazard and the additional safety information about this known fireplace hazard will not improve the quality of parental training of small children. Oh yes, small children cannot read.
3. Add on “Safety Guard” screens: Safety screens do have value. Unfortunately they will not be put on every Lennox and Superior fireplace that has small children near by. Also these kinds of screens are not yet available for the millions of gas fireplaces manufactured by other manufacturers. Additionally, all of these screens dramatically reduce the ambience of a burning gas fireplace, can cause a reduction of overpressure blowout protection and will likely be removed by the next homeowner. Also, installing screens will very likely permanently disfigure the fireplace.
Installing a childproof fence: This was not part of the out of court settlement. Having a 3 foot high safety fence around a fireplace or stove also has good value for homeowners. This may sound strange, but it actually works well and it is the best solution. One company “Kidco”, www.kidco.com makes a freestanding HearthGate™ fence and door safety fence system that retails for about $200. These are easily installed and size adjusted for specific needs. Be sure to contact us at http://www.bendfireside.com/request-in-home-estimate/ if you are in the Central Oregon area and would like us do the measurements for you. The advantage of a HearthGate is that it is obviously protecting children from a hazard and keeping them at a safe distance. They can by used with all brands of fireplaces or stoves and the esthetics of the fire is not degraded as much as with a safety screen. Also they can be installed with no disfiguring of the fireplace or home.
So there you have it. Gas fireplaces do have hot glass surfaces that can cause personal injury in some situations. But for about 200 dollars, the chance of injury is dramatically reduced. There are a lot of additional things that consumers need to know about fireplaces in general and gas fireplaces in particular. Be sure to check out http://www.bendfireside.com/fireplaces/ if you are located in Bend or Central Oregon and thinking about upgrading your fireplace or installing a fireplace in your new home.
For additional home safety information: http://www.mortgageloan.com/homehazards/
Author Roger Sanders is the Owner of Bend Fireside. Connect with him on Google+.