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safety gates

If you have a hearth that you actually use, a fireplace safety gate is essential for childproofing your home. While a hearth gate is pricey, typically ranging between $100 and $200, it’s a much more secure and versatile option than protective foam padding which is sometimes recommended.

Pads can be pulled off, and don’t provide a high enough obstacle for children anxious to touch a visually dazzling fire. Even worse than foam padding specifically designed for fireplaces are pool noodles that some parents try to tape down. Not only are these easily pulled off, but they usually come in bright, child-friendly colors that makes them even more seductive for meddling.

Unlike a baby gate, or other safety gate products made from lighter materials, fireplace safety gates are usually made out of non-toxic, heat resistant steel or iron, giving them a heft that makes them fairly difficult for small children and small pets to knock down. Fireplace gate dimensions vary from product to product, but typical measurements are 6′ wide, 2′ deep and 30″ high. A hearth gate should be tall enough to discourage children from climbing.

Unlike fireplace doors, most fireplace gates are portable enough to be used for wood burning stoves and outdoor grills as needed. The also have the advantage of protecting children from a fireplace’s sharp brick or stone textures and corners.

Some child safety gate products consist of three interlocking segments whose left and right segment angle inward. Higher-end models are made up more segments to accommodate wider fireplaces, with additional segments available for purchase. These gates often have a section with a walk-through gate with an adult release latch. It’s important to measure your fireplace and the clearance you’ll need before committing to a particular model, since the number of segments included by default may not be enough, and having to purchase extra segments might bump up your total cost by 30-50%.

While a determined child can knock down a baby fireplace gate, the gate’s heavy metal hitting the floor is excellent for alerting a parent that the fireplace is exposed. The thud of the falling gate will usually prompt the child to jump away from the fireplace rather than toward it, at least long enough for the parent to intervene.

No matter how diligent the parent, it’s impossible to keep an eye on a child every single moment. Without exception, every child at some point learns the hard way that fire and hot objects should not be touched. A parent’s task is to make the hard way less severe, and as unlikely as possible. Even a bad safety gate is safer than none.

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