Donate |

Dangers of fireplace glass

Consumer Reports News: February 11, 2011 09:38 AM

Since 1999 more than 2,000 children under the age of six have suffered burns from glass enclosures on gas fireplaces, according to Fair Warning, a nonprofit publication concerned with health and safety issues. 

Gas fireplaces can include glass fronts, doors or paneling, and they have become more popular over the years as a cleaner alternative to wood-burning stoves.  

Voluntary industry standards allow for the glass on gas fireplaces to reach 500 degrees. Manufacturers do provide warning labels and brochures about the burn hazards of fireplace glass, but additional, and perhaps more effective safety steps could be taken. For example, Hearth and Home Technologies, a manufacturer of gas fireplaces, has begun including a mesh screen that surrounds the glass, providing an additional barrier between tiny hands and hot fireplaces. 

Carol Pollack-Nelson, an independent safety consultant, is petitioning the industry to address this issue, and is currently waiting for a response to her latest query. Pollack-Nelson used to work with the Consumer Product Safety Commission and became involved with fireplace safety after serving as an expert witness in a class action suit against a manufacturer. Pollack-Nelson strongly believes that there needs to be a physical barrier to prevent severe burn injuries from contacting hot fireplace glass. “I have screens on all three of the gas fireplaces in my home. They do not detract in the least from the aesthetics of the flowing fire.” 

The argument could be made that hot fireplaces are inherently dangerous to young children, regardless of glass parts, and many would argue that common sense or parental supervision could keep children safe. But since there is a practical, affordable way to add an extra layer of protection, why not include it in all new gas fireplaces. 

--Maggie Shader

   

E-mail Newsletters

FREE e-mail Newsletters! Choose from cars, safety, health, and more!
Already signed-up?
Manage your newsletters here too.

Latest From Consumer Reports

CARS NEWS
Why Toyota should recall the Camry Hybrid Brake problems on 2007-11 models warrant a stronger company response.
BACK-TO-SCHOOL SHOPPING GUIDE
Must-have small appliances for college studentsVideo Best coffeemakers, blenders, and more for a dorm room or an off-campus flat.
WASHING MACHINE REVIEWS
Washer and dryer features you'll want and some to skipVideo The latest machines are loaded with loads of conveniences.
LAPTOP REVIEWS
5 budget-friendy laptops for college students These models provide great features at an affordable price.
DIGITAL CAMERA REVIEWS
6 kick-butt point-and-shoots that are worth the price If you care about image quality, consider these noteworthy models.
SPORTS CAR REVIEWS
Fast, ferocious M3 and M4 wow on street and track These classy, high-performance BMWs can run with purebred sports cars.

Connect

and safety with
subscribers and fans

Follow us on:

Cars

Cars New Car Price Report
Find out what the dealers don't want you to know! Get dealer pricing information on a new car with the New Car Price Report.

Order Your Report

Mobile

Mobile Get Ratings on the go and compare
while you shop

Learn more