February 19, 2001
from the National Fire Protection Association
Most of the homeowners in the Northwest have candles and use them from time to time. They are frequently used for a light source, and with the latest headlines on the electrical energy crisis their use may become even more popular. Some people love scented candles and delight in burning them almost continuously. We all understand that a candle is fire.
Granted it is a controlled fire, but it is still a fire in your home.
A candle is an open flame that can easily ignite any nearby combustible material. Combustibles are not just substances as explosive as gasoline. They are curtains, newspapers, furniture and so on.
When using candles there are key points to remember to keep your home and family safe. The following are tips for the safe use of candles:
Use candles only with constant adult supervision. Extinguish all candles when leaving a room or going to sleep. Keep candles well away from items that can catch fire such as clothing, books, paper, curtains, etc.
Place candles on a secure piece of furniture, in sturdy holders that will not tip over. Make sure candleholders are non-combustible (yes, people have used holders that could catch fire) and big enough to collect dripping wax. Do not place lit candles in windows, where blinds or curtains can close over them.
Keep wicks trimmed to 1/4 inch, and extinguish and discard candles when they burn down to within two inches of the holder. Keep candles and all open flames away from flammable liquids. Do not use candles in places where they can be knocked over by children or pets.
When young children are present:
Keep candles up high, out of reach of children. Never leave a child unattended in a room with a candle. A child should not sleep in a room with a lit candle. Keep all matches and lighters up high and out of the sight and reach of children, preferably in a locked cabinet.
During power outages:
Flashlights and other lights operated by batteries are a much safer light source than candles. Avoid carrying a lit candle. Do not use a candle to go into a closet to look for things.
Never use a candle for light near fueling equipment such as a kerosene heater or lantern. Extinguish all candles when leaving the home or when going to sleep.
All of this is common sense, right? Why even say anything about safe candle use?
The reason is that firefighters have seen each of the above points ignored and a fire caused. It's too easy to forget about a candle burning and go to bed or leave the house to come back to a fire that has destroyed a home. Or worse yet, cost the life of a pet or a loved one. In some cases, a simple candle has cost someone their life.