If you have young children and a wood stove, then you are probably concerned about how to keep your children safe from smoke inhalation, house fires, and burns. While there are several things you can do to make your wood stove safer in general, such as adding a protective gate around it, cleaning it regularly, and burning only dry wood, your best tool for keeping your children safe is to educate them about fire safety. Below are four ways to help your children learn to respect the wood stove.
Teach By Example
While your child is young, they will want to be like you, which means that they will often mimic behaviors that they see you doing. For this reason, and to keep yourself safe, it is important that you follow basic fire safety rules when you are using your wood stove. This can include giving the stove adequate distance unless you are tending the fire, only burning wood in the stove, and making sure long hair and loose clothing are out of the way any time you open the stove's door.
Of course, you will have to tend the fire when your child is around. Before you approach the stove, you should tell your child why it is okay for you to interact with the wood stove. Even before your child becomes verbal, they will understand much of what you say.
For a toddler, it can be difficult to understand that sometimes it is okay to touch the wood stove and other times it is hot. You should avoid placing objects on the stove when it is not in use and treat it as if it is always hot. This lets your child build a consistent behavior towards your stove.
Allow Your Child to Help
Even at a young age, you can get your child involved in the basic maintenance of your fire. Your toddler can hand you kindling or small pieces of fuel while you are building a fire. As your child grows up, you may let them build the fire themselves, strike a match, and eventually add fuel to an already burning fire. Having responsibility over the fire will help them understand how it works and gain more respect for the wood stove.
How much responsibility your child can have over the wood stove depends on their maturity and how they listen to directions. However, even if your child is very independent, it is important that they never start or feed a fire without direct supervision.
Be Stern With Your Child
Wood stoves can be dangerous if a toddler or small child touches their surface. Unfortunately, toddlers enjoy testing limits, so when you tell them a certain item should not be touched, they may test you to see how serious you are. You may need to use a firm voice to tell your child that wood stoves are hot. If you do not usually verbally reprimand your child, this can be unnerving for both you and your child, but after awhile, your child should repeat back that the stove is hot, and finally understand that it is truly off limits.
If your child is often in the same room as the wood stove, and you cannot trust them to stay away from it, you should look into options for safety gates. However, you should keep in mind that children who do not learn to respect a wood stove may attempt to climb over a gate or throw items into the gate to continue testing their limits. Also, a gate will not teach your child how to behave when you visit homes with wood stoves that do not have gates in place.
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