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Wall Heaters and Child Safety

by Sara Ipatenco

Wall heaters exist in many older houses and are occasionally installed in newer homes as well. The units are necessary for keeping your home toasty warm all winter long. They can, however, pose certain dangers if you have small children. You don't have to do anything drastic, like replacing your entire heating system, but you do need to take a few precautions to prevent your child from being injured by your wall heater.

Types

Gas wall heaters are one type, and they range in size between 1 and 5 feet high. Gas wall heaters operate either by circulating air in your home or by pulling air from the outside in. Electric baseboard heaters are another type of wall heater, and they are usually installed along the bottom of the walls in your home. Other types of electric wall heaters are mounted directly to the wall or in an alcove cut into an already existing wall. Radiators are usually mounted to the wall, as well, and they can pose a danger to children just like all other types of wall heaters.

Dangers

Burning is a primary danger associated with any type of wall heater. Many wall heating units get extremely hot to the touch, which can lead to serious burns if your child touches the heater. Sharp edges are another hazard that can lead to injury, according to the California Pacific Medical Center website. If something, such as an item of clothing or a stuffed toy, is left too close to a wall heater, it can start a fire. This is particularly dangerous if your wall heater isn't working right or if parts of it are broken or missing.

Precautions

Certain wall heaters can be fitted with a cover that prevents your child from getting burned. For example, there are several selections of covers for baseboard heaters that don't get hot enough to burn your child. The covers can also hide sharp edges. If an appropriate cover for your wall heater doesn't exist, consider putting up a baby gate to keep your child from getting close to the unit. The California Pacific Medical Center site recommends placing the gate at least 18 inches away from the wall heater. You might also use a fireplace screen to keep your child's hands and body away from the heater.

Additional Considerations

Make sure that your wall heater is properly installed and in good working order, the Texas Commission on Fire Protection website recommends. Follow the operating instructions on your unit exactly, too. Consider removing the operating knobs, especially if you use a baseboard heater, the California Pacific Medical Center site suggests. This will keep your curious child from playing with the unit and turning it up too high. Teach your child to keep items away from the heater as well, which will reduce the fire danger.

About the Author

Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.

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