Fireguard disagreement

(38 Posts)
flatwhite Mon 11-Feb-13 21:47:40

MIL stayed with us over weekend. She has now left (lives other end country) and DH has told me she phoned him early this morning to say she has not slept all night worrying about DS coming to harm by our open gas fire. DS is 2 1/2 and generally quite a bright little thing who understands when things might harm him and seems to know when to stay away.
DH has brought nome fireguard a few weeks ago on request MIL and he assembled it. I found it to be a ugly monstrosity which took up space and made it difficult for grown ups to access fire too. I took it down and we did not think more about it till MIL came again just now.
Note DS has never tried touch fire- he does approach it and look at us cheekily inviting us to say no and this seems to work. I would never leave him unattended with fire lit.
But I think this issue has deeper roots then a disagreement over a fire guard.
I often feel I can never keep my child safe enough in MILs eyes. When she is with him she is never more then an arms length away, it took her a while to feel comfortable with him being able to manage stairs without support, solids which are not mush etc etc. She admitted when he was born that would always feel the need to protect him etc she did not sleep for a few nights after he was born as she was so worried about DS and his care...
DH sort of understands where I am coming from and asked if it would be ok to erect fire guard just when she visits then take it down again!!
I am left rather confused as to what to do- on the one hand I truely think DS will be ok without the guard but on the other I feel that I am being negligent just for sake of proving a point...
So... What do people think about fire guards?
Are they absolutely necessary?
Would anyone dare admit they have an open fire without one (and have a toddler)??
Do you think It is ok for me to stand my grounds about this issue??

TheDeadlyDonkey Mon 11-Feb-13 21:55:39

Personally I would never have an open fire without a guard. Your DS is only tiny and accidents do happen. I would see no fire guard as an unacceptable risk, but maybe I'm overprotective?
Maybe you could find one that fits more easily into the room?
Relationships with MILs can be difficult when you have different ideas of how things should be done, but as long as you are not putting your dc at risk, he is your child and you and your dh should do things your way.

Iggity Mon 11-Feb-13 22:03:56

We have a full sized nursery fire guard. DS is nearly 4. We have it more to protect against him falling on the sharp marble hearth as we never light the fire. I think at 2.5 your DS is probably still too young to really understand danger but you are his mum so up to you to decide. Our guard is black and I think it looks quite smart as fireplace is off-white limestone with black hearth.

LovesBeingWokenEveryNight Mon 11-Feb-13 22:11:48

Me? I would have a guard. In fact I guess we do, we've just started using a gas fire downstairs to reduce heating costs and it is placed in the kitchen on the other side of the gate.

We have two, one on each fire. After DS2 accidentally cut his head on the stone hearth, the guard is a safety item that is functional,not pretty.

And you never know when a good child may shove something in the fire which could cause problems or slip/trip on the hearth. It's not going to be up forever, but I would have it up for peace of mind!

FWIW, the fire service don't start teaching children about fire safety until they're 6/7. This is when they begin to understand the consequences and definitely know what don't touch means...

flatwhite Mon 11-Feb-13 22:13:16

I hear you both.
I am usually so safety conscious and am always worrying about DS but I can't work out why I didn't have a worry about the fire place??
The fireguard we had was metal and ugly. I guess in my mind it sort of represents my perception of MILs anxiety and need to protect!!
Maybe we need to shop around for a more tasteful one!

CelticPromise Mon 11-Feb-13 22:13:48

I think you're crazy to have an open fire without a guard. I have a wood burner and a three year old, would never have it lit without the guard. It only takes a second to fall or touch and the consequences could be so awful.

There was a little girl on 24 Hours in A&E last year that got burnt when her skirt caught from their open fire.

I am really a very relaxed parent in many ways! I wouldn't take this risk though. Not worth it.

PurpleStorm Mon 11-Feb-13 22:19:35

I think that if you've got an open fire and a toddler, then a fireguard is essential.

A toddler's too young to understand why they're meant to keep away, and even if he's not in the room alone with it, it'd still be far too easy for him to touch it or fall on it before you could reach him.

flatwhite Mon 11-Feb-13 22:29:20

I do agree with all theses points and concerns.
My initial attitude must fall within a minority
I think I'm just upset that MIL can't talk to me about these things and has to go through DH.
Or maybe it better this way...

lemontwist Mon 11-Feb-13 22:34:45

Please get a fireguard. We have two open fireplaces and DS1 has had it drummed into him since he was teeny not to touch and I'm pretty sure he wouldn't but one trip while running around and he could fall straight into it, or have clothing catch fire. I have a scar on my forehead from fallling and hitting my head on the hearth when I was small. Even our fire that is very rarely used has a guard on it for that reason.
I have a childminder friend with an unused fire place. Ofsted insisted she has a guard as head injury on raisd hearths is unfortunately fairly common. Also, as a previous poster mentioned, at that age they have no real sense of danger so you never know if or when the temptation to touch or throw something at the fire will get too much.

PoppyWearer Mon 11-Feb-13 22:38:42

Please please use the fireguard.

AnyaKnowIt Mon 11-Feb-13 22:41:37

Why shouldn't she speak to her son about it?

And please use the fireguard, all it would take is for your ds to trip over something

VerySmallSqueak Mon 11-Feb-13 22:46:51

Use the fireguard.

It may be ugly,but after a while you won't see it.

It will also stop a log rolling off and setting fire to the hearth rug/carpet.

VerySmallSqueak Mon 11-Feb-13 22:49:02

tbh I learned my lesson that even when you haven't got a fire going a fireguard is a good idea (it's quite amazing how far ash can go in a very short space of time....)

flatwhite Mon 11-Feb-13 22:51:33

No logs- sorry its a gas fire. It's quite contained. No sparks...

VerySmallSqueak Mon 11-Feb-13 22:54:28

Oops,sorry - must read post properly!

Still would use the fireguard though....

flatwhite Mon 11-Feb-13 22:54:40

Re why shouldn't she speak to her son about it?
She is never open with me about any of her anxieties. I can guess them all though and the lack of communication creates more tensions.
I constantly feel undermined and excluded by her.
That is why I was upset.

flatwhite Mon 11-Feb-13 22:55:34

No it ok I said open fire - we have only recently moved in here and not that clued up with all the types of fires...

pictish Mon 11-Feb-13 22:58:42

I think a fireguard is a must have for that age too. We had one. I loathed it, but it stayed until the kids were much surer on their feet. I still have one, but a more attractive, smaller one now. We started off with the all encompassing monstrosity though. Couldn't not have.

Anything could happen whether he touches the fire or not. He could trip over a toy and stumble into it for a start! He might throw or drop something into it by accident. You never know!

Your mil was right to raise it with her son. She is thnking about the safety of your child.

pictish Mon 11-Feb-13 23:03:51

And please...don't resent the fact that she spoke to her son. He's her son...that's his mum. That's her son's baby she is worried about. It's healthy and correct that she should raise it with him, rather than you.

pictish Mon 11-Feb-13 23:04:56

Not that she shouldn't raise it with you...but it's to be expected that your dh will be her first point of contact. Iyswim?

FriedSprout Mon 11-Feb-13 23:07:40

I should imagine she is not telling you directly because she is trying her best not to step on your feet and upset you. If she spoke dirctly to you about this then that might lead you to think that she is accusing you of neglect, or her of interferring. I think the very last thing she wants to happen is her son to go home and say "my mums thinks...". She just wants to her son to start a discussion with you.

Think she is trying to be a good non-interfering mil

AnyaKnowIt Mon 11-Feb-13 23:08:50

So you are unwilling to get a fireguard because your mil chose to speak to her own son about her concerns? confused

Viviennemary Mon 11-Feb-13 23:08:50

I think your mil is right. We had a huge fireguard which was a monstrosity but the H & S advice is to have a fireguard. Toddlers can trip up.

VerySmallSqueak Mon 11-Feb-13 23:09:54

^ agree with what's been said by pictish and FriedSprout.

Delayingtactic Mon 11-Feb-13 23:20:48

Please please use a fire guard. Yes they're ugly and what not but that's secondary to its main role. Accidents happen, children trip and fall and you would never ever forgive yourself if it did. I've seen a family torn apart by a supervised child tripping and their clothing catching alight. That little girls burns will stay with me forever. I don't mean to be dramatic but it does happen and even if its a small risk the consequences are too much.

And I think your mil can't win - if she spoke to you directly i think you'd take it to heart and feel like she was directly criticising you. She probably feels like she's doing the nicer thing by talking to her son.

BackforGood Mon 11-Feb-13 23:21:41

Please use a fireguard. Surely keeping a small child safe is more important than it 'looking ugly' ?

I suspect she speaks more directly to her son than you, because she's a MNer who has read some of the million and one threads on here each month, written by MNers whinging about their MiLs, and saying "She's always interfering / she's always criticising me" or "Why does she think it's my responsibility, and not speak to dh?" wink

13Iggis Mon 11-Feb-13 23:22:54

We had (have) a gas fire/real flames type thing. I literally haven't had it on since ds1 started to move (he's 5 now). I think we'll probably have moved house before we do so again! So, that's one way to avoid a fire guard I suppose! (It is sunken into the wall, no hearth to trip on).

Catchingmockingbirds Mon 11-Feb-13 23:27:50

I would get a fire guard, I think they are very important. Your MIL sounds like she has some issues that need addressing though IMO, this line really stood out to me:

she did not sleep for a few nights after he was born as she was so worried about DS and his care...

WeAllHaveWings Mon 11-Feb-13 23:32:36

The only thing that is important is your ds's safety. You know what the risks are, why take them with the most precious thing in you life?

How the fireguard looks, the inconvenience of it, and your MIL's way of raising her concerns are totally separate and/or irrelevant.

Please use the fireguard.

<fondly remembers binning the biggest, ugliest fireguard ever when ds was 6>

Blessyou Mon 11-Feb-13 23:38:14

My in laws have a removable one. It clips to the wall when fire in use, then can be unclipped and folded flat when not in use.
Could be a compromise.

NicholasTeakozy Mon 11-Feb-13 23:39:42

Damn, thought The Fall had released a new album... grin

piprabbit Mon 11-Feb-13 23:47:52

My MIL is a worrier and a hoverer too. I used to have to suppress the urge to yell "FFS, Leave her be, stop mithering her". My DCs are now 9yo and 4yo and are not slow in telling their GM to back off when she is cramping their style, so I can sit back and leave them all to it.

But you do need a proper fireguard.

wombatcheese Tue 19-Mar-13 05:12:57

I'm another, 'you need a fireguard'. You say you always keep an eye on DS- It's only human to take your eye off, be distracted by phone, door etc, and it would only take a split second for him to trip into fire. This is not something to decide to be stubborn/ into aesthetics about.

TotallyBursar Tue 19-Mar-13 05:36:29

Fire and water (or heat and water) and cars are, imo & ime, things that require absolute safety measures.
The risks are so rarely going to be minimal if an accident happens.
When the results are more likely to be skin grafts, permanent disability or death then one can't trust to luck. Because even the best behaved toddler can't control a slip, the corner of a blankie/nighty/superhero cape being blown by a breeze or swung round, a toy bouncing - it does come down to luck.
This particular issue would surely be spiting your face.

Your mil needs to get a grip though - at first I thought she had a point (what with the unsecured fire) but this started almost before you got him all the way here. Sadly it makes anything that person says difficult to filter. Agree I see no obvious slight in her talking to your DH but it does sound like this is part of a bigger problem, namely her not treating you respectfully as a parent - did it feel more like running to tell tales?
Sort out the 'tudes and hopefully, if this is the biggest issue, you can have a good relationship that you may come to really value.

Homebird8 Tue 19-Mar-13 06:07:28

I'd definitely use a fire guard. We had a wood burner when DSs were small and still used one. I don't think it ever did save them from falling against the hot metal burner, but then again I could leave them in the room playing whilst I was in the kitchen so maybe I just didn't see. I was just as worried about DHs unstable DM and DGM who could have lost their balance and burned themselves too.

The issue with an over-responsible and over-anxious MIL is another story. Even if she is these things, in this case she has a point and it may settle her a bit on other matters if you act on it. Go shopping for a prettier one. We found a lovely one in TK Max.

differentnameforthis Wed 20-Mar-13 07:45:25

It's not just about touching it willing though, is it? Kids of that age jump around, they run, they trip. DD used to fall onto the fire guard a lot, just because she was never still. I hate to think of what would have happened if we didn't have the guard there.

pooka Wed 20-Mar-13 07:48:10

After watching the 24 hours in A & E where the poor girl aged about 5 stumbled near the fire and ended up with horrific burns, I think shopping around for a more aesthetically pleasing fire guard would be the ideal solution.

All it takes is a tiny trip and the fact that you aren't leaving him unattended as such becomes irrelevant.

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