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J Burn Care Rehabil. 1999 Jan-Feb;20(1 Pt 1):86-9; discussion 85.

The gas fireplace: a new burn hazard in the home.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.


Gas fireplaces have become popular in recent years. This article presents the first reported case of a burn injury from contact with the glass front of a gas fireplace. An investigation of the surface temperature of the glass fronts of gas fireplaces was undertaken to clarify the risks posed by these units. Surface temperature measurements of the glass fronts of 3 common gas fireplace models were obtained using a thermocouple probe. Glass temperatures reached 200 degrees C within 6.5 minutes of ignition, climbing to 245 degrees C at 14 minutes after ignition. Glass temperature continued to rise beyond this point, but it could not be monitored because the adhesives securing the thermocouple probe melted. Glass temperatures of 50 degrees C were recorded at 30 minutes after the unit was shut off. The temperatures of the glass fronts of glass fireplaces are sufficient to cause cutaneous burns within seconds of contact both while the fireplace is in use and up to one half hour after it has been turned off. Current industry safety standards are not directed at the prevention of contact burns. We recommend that (1) mechanical guards be installed to create a barrier in front of the glass; (2) strict warning labels be applied to the units and ignition switches; and (3) burn prevention information be distributed with the owner's manual for these products.

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