A fireplace can be dangerous for babies and toddlers. Aside from the fire, which is an attraction for curious little ones, the hearth holds its own set of dangers. A raised hearth, particularly one made of brick or stone, is a hard and often sharp-edged surface that can cause bumps, bruises or cuts if children run into it. Blocking access to the hearth is one solution, but padding the edges can soften the blow for the occasional tumble onto the surface.
Padded covers that conceal sharp edges of your hearth are available on the market. These protective pads are made of thick foam covered with fire-retardant fabric. They attach along the edges of the hearth with Velcro fasteners or double-sided tape. Edge covers are available in a variety of sizes and lengths to fit most fireplaces, but custom-made options are also available. To make your own edge cover, build a frame from wood to fit the length and depth of your hearth. Glue thick foam to the outside surface. Wrap the foam-covered frame with flame-retardant fabric and staple it to the back of the frame. Stick on Velcro fasteners to the frame and the fireplace for easy attachment and removal.
Full Hearth Covers
A padded full hearth cover shields all exposed surfaces of a stone or brick hearth. This type of hearth cover offers greater protection by leaving no hard surface exposed. It also provides cushioned seating along the hearth. Custom-made covers are available for any size or shape of hearth. They do not have to be attached to the hearth but rest on the surface, eliminating the need to use an adhesive or Velcro. Because a full hearth cover is installed close to the fireplace opening, it is advisable to remove the cover before using the fireplace. You can make your own full hearth cover by constructing an open box frame built to the dimensions of your hearth. Measure the width and depth of the flat surface of the hearth for the top of the box. Then measure the height and width of the sides and front of the hearth for the pieces to complete the box. After constructing the wooden frame, cover all outer surfaces with thick foam padding then staple fabric over the foam.
When guests or family members with children come to visit, you can provide a quick fix by covering the hearth with a thick quilt. Another option is to place throw pillows along the front of the hearth for a quick padding solution.
If you create your own padded hearth cover, consider making different covers to attach to the frame. Use holiday-themed fabrics for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and other seasonal celebrations. Quilted fabric in holiday themes is available at craft stores, or you can cut up old quilts for a nostalgic look. Attach the covers to the back of the frame with Velcro for quick changes.
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