The popularity of candles has grown every year with sales estimated to have exceeded $2.3 billion in 2000. There are over 2,000 varieties of candles on the market ranging from those used for religious purposes to those used for holiday decorations. And the soaring popularity in candles has led to an increase in reported fires, jumping a startling 20 percent. According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) candles are responsible for approximately 9,400 residential structure fires each year and cause 950 civilian injuries, 90 fatalities and $120.5 million in direct property loss.
Unattended candles or candles placed too close to combustibles account for 41 percent of candle fires. The leading items ignited by candles are cabinetry, mattresses, curtains and furniture, except in December, when decorations are the most common item.
Four out of ten home candle fires start in the bedroom and two out of ten in common rooms, living rooms, family rooms or dens. Candle fire are more common around the holidays, because more people use candles and decorations are often near them.
However, with certain safety precautions people can enjoy using their candles and prevent a chain of events that can result in unnecessary injury and even death.
Candle Safety Tips
- Never leave a burning candle unattended. Extinguish all candles when you leave the room or go to bed.
- Light candles carefully, keeping hair and loose clothing away from the flame.
- Since candle fires occur most often in the bedroom it is important to keep them away from bedding, curtains and blinds, wallpaper, upholstered furniture, piles of clothing, and newspapers and magazines, and monitor them carefully.
- Keep candles from high-traffic locations where they can be easily knocked over, including any area accessible to children or pets.
- Place candles in sturdy holders and that won’t tip over easily.
- Avoid candles with combustibles items embedded in them.
- Place candles at least three inches from one another.
- Use extreme caution if you carry a lit candle, holding it away from clothing and any combustibles that may be near the path along which you walk and avoid loose, flowing clothing that is not flame-resistant.
- Extinguish candles when they burn down to within two inches of their holder or any decorative material.
Candles and Children
· Don’t let children play with candles or dripping wax or with combustibles materials near candles.
· Don’t allow children or teens to burn candles in their bedroom.
· Store candles, matches and lighters up high and out of children’s reach.