Wednesday, February 1, 2012 Explores the Hidden Danger of Superheated Fireplace Glass

Pittsburgh residents concerned with dangerous products and the deleterious affects businesses decisions to forego safety in the name of profits can have on their children will want to start following a FairWarningFairWarning is an online, nonprofit publication that seeks to provide robust, public interest journalism on issues of health, safety and corporate conduct. Their mission is to arm consumers and workers with valuable information, and to spotlight reckless business practices and lax oversight by government agencies. This done by producing original investigations on issues of vital importance, while offering a wide sweep of judicial opinions, legal and regulatory news, and reports from think tanks, advocacy groups and academic and professional journals.  The people at FairWarning are the "good guys".

As a new parent watching my 10-month old son explore the world I was taken back, particularly, by FairWarnings recent piece on dangerous fireplace case.  FairWarnings' "Toddlers Suffer Severe Burns From Broiling Fireplace Glass, as Businesses Write Their Own Safety Rules" brings to light the oft overlooked risk of fireplaces' superheated glass enclosures.  The article notes that "there is no government mandate to protect or warn consumers about the risk from the glass of gas fireplaces, which in recent years have been installed by the millions as cleaner alternatives to wood-burning hearths."

"Instead, the industry polices itself under a voluntary standard that allows the glass to reach a peak temperature of 500 degrees. The limit is meant to keep the glass from cracking, not to prevent people from getting burned. The standard, written by a business-dominated group, doesn’t require a screen to prevent contact with the glass. Rather, it relies on warnings that many consumers never see."  Among engineers and safety experts, there is wide agreement on the need to design products to eliminate or guard against hazards, rather than rely on warnings to do the job.

Sadly, many toddlers are severely burned each year as a result of putting their hands, arms, even faces up against fireplace glass.  As is the case with most change in corporate America I don't expect to see new safety mechanisms in place any time soon.  Thus, parents should be extra careful to not only guard their children from the fire itself but also the glass enclosing it. Share this post :
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