“…more than 2,000 children ages 5 and younger have suffered burns from fireplace glass since 1999, according to a federal estimate. Some burn specialists think the actual toll is higher…”
“…(one) lawsuit, filed this June in federal court in Denver, seeks damages from several fireplace companies along with operators of the resort. They knew “these fireplaces would be installed at heights for which the decorative glass front was perfectly suited to contact by infants and small children,” the lawsuit states, yet “took no steps to guard against direct contact with the super-heated glass or to meaningfully warn about the extreme…burn potential.”
Citing the “extreme risk of injury,” the American Burn Association, representing burn surgeons, nurses and therapists, last week became the latest to call for adoption of a mandatory safety standard. It joins such groups as Consumers Union and the Consumer Federation of America.
The glass commonly reaches temperatures of 400 degrees, as hot as an oven on broil, and is usually placed at a perfect height for curious toddlers to touch or fall into. These encounters can easily result in skin graft surgery and painful recovery, with medical costs in the six figures. One safety expert called it an “insidious and unappreciated hazard.”
Consumer groups and anguished parents are urging the Consumer Product Safety Commission to impose federal safety regulations. But the fireplace industry, which up to now has policed itself, is resisting. To head off federal regulation and more lawsuits from families of burned kids, manufacturers are working on a revision to their current voluntary standard that will be taken up by an industry technical panel on Dec. 13.