The soaring popularity of candles has led to an increase in reported candle fires. The U.S. Fire Administration currently estimates that candles are responsible for approximately 10,000 residential fires each year, along with 1,000 civilian injuries, 85 fatalities, and $120 million in property loss. In 1999 alone, 15,040 home fires, 102 fatalities, and 1,473 injuries were caused by the improper use of candles. To prevent candle fires in your home, please consider the following recommendations:
Safe Candle Use
- Never leave a burning candle unattended. Extinguish all candles when you leave the room or go to bed.
- Never burn a candle on or near anything that can catch fire. Keep burning candles away from furniture, drapes, blinds, wallpaper, bedding, carpets, clothing, books, paper, and flammable decorations.
- Keep candles out of the reach of children and pets. Do not place lighted candles where they can be knocked over by children, pets or anyone else.
- Don't place lit candles in windows or near doorways where drafts could bring combustibles in contact with the flame.
- Trim candlewicks to 1/4 inch each time before burning. Long or crooked wicks may cause uneven burning and dripping.
- Use candleholders that are sturdy, won't tip over easily, are made of a material that can't burn, and are large enough to collect dripping wax.
- Place candleholders only on stable, uncluttered, and heat-resistant surfaces.
- Place candles at least three inches apart from one another. This is to ensure they don't melt one another, or cause the candles to burn improperly.
- Light candles carefully. Keep your hair and loose clothing away from the flame.
- Extinguish candles when they burn down to within two inches of their holder or any decorative material.
- Avoid the use of candles that have combustible materials (pinecones, twigs, etc.) embedded in them.
- Do not extinguish candles with water. The water can cause the hot wax to spatter and can cause glass containers to break. One of the safest ways to extinguish a candle is to use a candlesnuffer, which helps prevent hot wax from spattering.
Candles and Children
Children are naturally curious about candles and fire. An estimated 10 percent of home candle fires are started by children playing with candles or with combustible materials near candles.
- Don't let children play with candles or dripping wax.
- Never leave a child unattended in a room with a burning candle.
- Don't allow children or teens to burn candles in their bedrooms.
- Store candles, matches, and lighters up high and out of children's sight and reach.
Candles and Holidays
Unfortunately, there is a high correlation between holidays and candle fires. In fact, more candle fires start in December than during any other month of the year. To avoid candle fires around the holidays:
- Keep candles away from natural and artificial Christmas trees.
- Keep candles away from all holiday decorations.
- Place burning candles where they can't be bumped or brushed against.
- Arrange table candles safely away from flammable centerpieces and hanging decorations.
During Power Outages
- Avoid using candles as a source of light. Flashlights and other battery-powered lights are much safer to use during a power failure.
- Avoid carrying lit candles
- Never use a candle as light when you go into a closet to look for things.
- Never use a candle for light when fueling equipment such as lanterns or kerosene heaters. The flame could ignite the fumes.
For more information about candle safety, email our Life Safety Officer or call 703.385.7830.