Kids Health Info

Safety: Fire hazards and heater use at home

  • Guards and screens for heaters and open fires


    If you have the need for a room heater when young children are present, consider their safety. Many children are burned by heaters and open fires. Flame and contact burns can be serious, resulting in permanent scarring and disability. Avoid overheating bedrooms for babies and very young children, as this may contribute to the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), see www.sidsandkids.org

    When shopping for a heater you need to look for these specific features: 

    • Thermostat: to maintain a desired average room temperature. The heater should have a thermostat control that is easy to read and set and a cover over the dials  to prevent small hands from changing it.
    • Fan: this usually allows for a quicker and more even heat distribution. The fan can then be switched off, leaving the heater’s thermostat to maintain the desired room temperature.
    • Stability: the heater should be stable enough not to tip over when tilted to an angle of 15 degrees.

    The above features may make your heater safer than others, but when open fires, potbellied stoves and gas or electric heaters are in use, they should also be enclosed by a fixed guard that is firmly attached to the wall.

    This guard will: 

    • prevent contact with flames and hot surfaces including flues
    • prevent contact with clothing which could ignite
    • prevent children moving the guard.

    A GOOD TEST TO DETERMINE IF YOUR HEATER NEEDS A GUARD IS TO CAREFULLY ATTEMPT TO PLACE YOUR HAND ON THE SURFACE OF THE HEATER. IF THE SURFACE IS SO HOT THAT YOU CANNOT LEAVE YOUR HAND THERE FOR 10 SECONDS, THE HEATER NEEDS A GUARD TO PREVENT CONTACT BURNS TO YOUNG CHILDREN.

    A good guard should be about 700mm high. If the openings in the mesh of the screen are 20mm or smaller, the guard should be placed at least 150mm clear of any hot surface. If the mesh screen openings are larger than 20mm, the guard should be 500mm clear of hot surfaces to prevent children from putting hands or objects towards the hot surface.





    Reviewed 29/6/15

Kids Health Info app

The app will enable you to search and browse more than three hundred medical fact sheets and work offline.

Apple store Google play


Disclaimer
This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. The authors of these consumer health information handouts have made a considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in these handouts. Information contained in the handouts is updated regularly and therefore you should always check you are referring to the most recent version of the handout. The onus is on you, the user, to ensure that you have downloaded the most up-to-date version of a consumer health information handout.