Product Reviews

Welcome to Consumer Reports.

We’re so glad to have you as a member. You now have access to benefits that can help you choose right, be safe and stay informed.

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.

More From Consumer Reports

The Best Matching Washers and Dryers These washer-dryer pairs cleaned up in Consumer Reports' tests.
Best 4K TVs to Buy Right Now The top picks from the hundreds of 4K TVs we've tested.
Best New Car Deals Save money on the cars that Consumer Reports recommends.
How to Pick the Right Size Generator for Your House Add up the items you need to power before making your choice.


Cars Build & Buy Car Buying Service
Save thousands off MSRP with upfront dealer pricing information and a transparent car buying experience.

See your savings


Mobile Get Ratings on the go and compare
while you shop

Learn more