How to child-proof your radiators

How to child-proof your radiators

A baby leaning on a white compact convector radiatorA baby leaning on a white compact convector radiator

If you've got young children then you'll know that they always seem to gravitate towards the places in your home that get you the most worried. If they discover a tiny space that you weren't aware existed, you can almost guarantee they'll disappear into it and you almost have to have eyes in the back of your head to keep track of their movements.

Of course, while you can take all the precautions in the world, it's not possible to truly have eyes in the back of your head and monitor the movements of your child(ren) every single second of the day. This means you can take steps ahead of time to minimise the risks of a nasty accident and allow your child a healthy space to play and explore.

A radiator is one such thing around the home that has the potential to cause harm. Radiators are absolutely essential to keep our homes warm so it's simply not possible to take them out of the equation, but there are preventative measures you can take to keep the risk of scalding (and other associated radiator incidents) to an absolute minimum.

Cover up pipes

The water pipes that flow in and out of your radiators are probably more dangerous to young children that actual radiators. Radiator pipes are quite often exposed and low to the ground, which makes them easy to grab for children exploring their environment or seeking something to pull themselves up.

The best way to avoid this problem is by having your pipes hidden in the wall, only poking out at the last minute to connect up to the radiator valves. However, this is not always practical as it means pulling up floorboards or creating channels in walls - something many people will not have the inclination to do.

An easier alternative would be to invest in some pipe sleeves that cover up the exposed part of the radiator pipe that runs from the floor to the valve. These not only hide the hot pipes but also look incredibly stylish when paired with similar radiator valves.

If you have a considerable amount of pipework that is exposed then you may want to invest in some pipe covers made from foam or plastic. These materials do not conduct heat and will do a great job of keeping hot pipes away from grabbing hands. While not the most attractive, pipe covers only have to be a temporary measure and can be removed once the child is old enough for this to no longer be a problem.

You can also get foam covers to protect any sharp edges your radiator may have. Radiator edge protectors are often U-shaped or can be labelled as 'table edge protectors'. Installing these can also be temporary and don't have to spoil the aesthetic of your room once the child is older.

Cover up radiators

One of the biggest worries that parents of young children have is of them burning themselves on a really hot radiator. Children at the age where their crawling or just starting to walk are very likely to use a radiator as a place to hold on to or lean on to get their balance. This obviously makes a radiator that is switched on a real danger zone.

A simple way to stop this being a problem is by putting a radiator cover across the radiator in order to stop the hot chamber of the radiator from being accessible. Radiator covers are often very attractive and can have a functional element to them as well if they come with a shelf across the top.

As well as stopping a child's fingers from being scalded, another benefit of a radiator cover is they also stop the gap behind the radiator from being accessed. If you have a standard convector radiator, then you may have already discovered that the gaps behind the rear panel or convector fins is like a magnet for dropped toys, or even more likely, parts of toys. A radiator cover blocks this area off so you won't have to spend time fishing things that have got wedged down the back. Many compact convector radiators come with in-built top grill and side panels, further providing protection from that back-of-radiator black hole.

Teach kids radiators get hot

While not wanting to give parenting advice, one of the easiest ways to stop young children from burning themselves on a hot radiator is to gently teach them to stay away from them.

You don't have to create a sense of panic around radiators, but you can simply explain that radiators are there to make the house feel warmer, not for putting hands and feet on. You can even allow them to put there hands on a cooling down radiator if you think this will help them associate the rad with a hot temperature.

Heating and staying warm is an important part of living in the UK, so anything you can do to make talking about radiators a bit more informative is sure to be positive!

1 February 2022