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Which type of guard or screen makes a fire child-safe?

There’s nothing like the comforting warmth of a roaring fire in a log burner or open hearth to make us feel cosy and content in our homes. Providing us with much-needed warmth through the long winter nights.

The growing trend for installing log burners in urban properties is an example of our continued love of the natural warmth that only an open fire can provide.

Although a log burner or open hearth is a wonderful addition to any modern home, there are inherent risks with any activity that involves the unpredictability of flames and hot surfaces.

Therefore, it is particularly important that you take into consideration the safety of babies, toddlers and young children when using, or installing, a log burner or open fireplace. Having the correct fire guard in place provides peace of mind, and keeps you and your family safe. With the right screen or guard, there is no reason why the natural ambience and cosiness of your open fire or log burner cannot be enjoyed by the whole family.  

But with so many different styles of fire guards on the market, which do you choose if you have small, adventurous children?

1. A quick guide to fire guard safety regulations

EN1930:2011 – Published by the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN), this is the current safety standard for gates or surrounds that enclose a fire source. Young children are often vigorous at play and do not necessarily recognise the dangers in their environment as easily as older children and adults would. A child’s natural inquisitiveness can lead them to try and overcome obstacles such as gates and barriers. It is always advisable that children of any age are supervised when around fires or hot surfaces, regardless of whether a fire guard conforms to current safety requirements.

Please follow this link to see our guards which meet the EN1930:2011 specifications. 

NHS Guidance - recommends that if you have an open fireplace you should always use a fire guard that:

1. Encloses the whole fireplace

2. Attaches to the wall

You should not put anything on top of your fire guards, or hang anything from it.

2. What type of fire guard do I need for my open fire or log burner?

The traditional style of fire screen surrounds the hearth and is three or four panelled with a protective steel mesh. Added safety is provided on versions with an enclosed top, stopping coals and sparks being ejected from the fire onto your floor or carpet and also preventing children from throwing anything into the fire. There are no specific regulations for the distance a fire guard should be situated away from a fire source, but generally, fire screens project around 40-50cms. Many of our fire surrounds can be made to measure to suit your needs so please get in touch with us for a bespoke quote.

If you don’t feel the standard projection is far enough away from the “hot zone” you may want to consider a multi-panelled flex guard. Offering additional versatility, they can be adapted to more awkward or unusually shaped areas of the home. These hearth guards are essentially a baby gate to which you can add extra panels and fix to a structurally sound wall.

Tip: Something to bear in mind if looking at a flexible guard, such as the Baby Dan Flex range, is whether the bars are close enough together that your child cannot reach through, risking scalding or burning injuries. The recommendation is that bars should be no more than 6.5cms apart. 

3. Next Steps

Once you have decided on the style and finish of the fire guard or screen that suits your home décor, it is time to measure up and decide which size is best for your requirements.

For a recessed open hearth a fire screen may be sufficient. Once you know the distance away from the fire you are comfortable with look for a screen with a matching projection, and decide whether you feel you need a screen with an open or enclosed top. It is advisable to consider a closed top screen to prevent anything being thrown in, or being ejected from, the fireplace.  

For a log burner that stands away from the wall, bearing in mind the minimum safe distance you are happy with you should measure from the wall on one side of your log burner, using the minimum safe distance around the front of the fireplace, to the wall on the other side. This will give you an idea of the total length of the guard that you need and allow you to work out if extra panels should be ordered, if you are looking at the Baby Dan Flex range. Remember to fix your guard to a structurally sound wall.

Now you have an idea of which guard or screen is best for your needs you and your family can enjoy your fireplace or log burner in comfort and safety.   

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