CALGARY – Kelly Morrison never imagined her little boy’s first Christmas would be spent recovering from skin graft surgery. Last month, while on vacation in B.C., eight month old Hunter crawled up to a natural gas fireplace and put his hands on the glass.
“He started to scream and luckily all the adults grabbed him from the fireplace, submerged his hands in ice water and took him to the hospital,” Morrison said.
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All it took was an instant of contact for little Hunter Morrison to suffer serious burns. At the Alberta Children’s Hospital, burn therapist, Doug Baron says he sees dozens of cases like this every year.
“Often fireplace windows, if they’ve been on for even a short period, can get as hot as 200 or 300 degrees celsius, which can cause even with a momentary touch, a deep injury to the child.”
In Canada, all natural gas fireplaces manufactured after January 2015 must be installed with a safety barrier, but many homes with fireplaces don’t yet have these barriers in place.
“In my own home, I actually turned the gas off to the fireplace,” Baron said. “I didn’t have it on when my kids were little, to the point where we couldn’t even use our fireplace for a period of two to three years.”
Parents should also be very careful when visiting friends or family over the holidays and remember, fireplace glass can remain very hot long after the flames are out.
To keep your child safe around gas fireplaces, Safe Kids Canada recommends the following:
Never leave a young child alone near a gas fireplace; they can be burned before, during and after use.Create a barrier around the gas fireplace. Safety guards can be installed to keep you child at a safe distance at all times.Consider purchasing a safety attachment designed to dispense heat from the fireplace doors.Consider not using the fireplace if you have children less than five years of age, using is only after your children have gone to sleep or consider turning the unit off completely, including the ignition flame whenever the unit is not in useBe aware of contact burn dangers from irons, curling irons, radiators, older oven doors, wood-burning stoves, and fireplacesTeach your children about the dangers of fire.