Candles can brighten up any room by adding a touch of warmth and glow. While beautiful, they are also a major fire hazard that can lead to injury or fatality when not used correctly. According to the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) from 2012-2016 U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 8,200 home structure fires that were started by candles per year.
These fire damages caused an annual average of 80 deaths, 770 injuries and $264 million in direct property damage. While candle safety is not a regular topic of discussion, practicing basic candle safety tips can help keep you and your home safe. Homeowners should always exercise caution when using open flame sources in enclosed spaces.
We recommend the following safety tips when using candles:
How to Burn a Candle Safely
- Before burning, always trim the wick to ¼ inch. You can use a wick trimmer, nail clippers, or scissors. Long or crooked wicks can cause uneven burning, dripping or flaring.
- Keep the wax pool clear of wick trimmings, matches and debris at all times.
- Always use a candleholder specifically designed for candle use. It should be heat resistant, sturdy, and large enough to contain any drips or melted wax.
Burn Candles in a Well-Ventilated Room
- Avoid drafts, vents or air currents. This will help prevent rapid or uneven burning, sooting, and excessive dripping.
- Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on burn time and proper use. In general, it is recommended that candles do not burn for longer than four hours and cool for at least two hours before relighting.
- When lighting a candle, use long matches or a long-reach lighter. Keep your hair and loose clothing away from the flame.
- Never leave a candle unattended.
- Never burn a candle on or near anything that can catch fire. Keep burning candles away from furniture, drapes, bedding, carpets, books, paper, flammable decorations, etc.
- 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.
- Never touch or move a candle while it is burning or while the wax is liquefied.
- Don’t burn a candle all the way down. For a margin of safety, discontinue burning a candle when 1/2 inch remains in the container or 2 inches if using a pillar candle.
- Place burning candles at least three inches apart from one another. This is to make sure they don’t melt one another, or create their own drafts that will cause the candles to burn improperly.
- Extinguish a candle if the flame becomes too high or flickers repeatedly. Let the candle cool, trim the wick, and check for unwanted drafts before re-lighting.
- Never use a candle as a night light or while you may fall asleep.
- Be very careful if using candles during a power outage. Flashlights and other battery-powered lights are safer sources of light during a power failure. Never use a candle during a power outage to look for things in a closet, or when fueling equipment – such as a lantern or kerosene heater.
When Extinguishing a Candle
- Use a candle snuffer to extinguish a candle. It’s the safest way to prevent hot wax from splattering.
- Never use water to extinguish a candle. Water can cause the hot wax to splatter and might break a glass container.
- Make sure the candle is completely out and the wick ember is no longer glowing before leaving the room.
- Don’t touch or move the candle until it has completely cooled.
- Never use a knife or sharp object to remove wax drippings from a glass holder. It might scratch, weaken, or cause the glass to break upon subsequent use.1
In conclusion fires may not always be predictable, but with proper steps they can be prevented. This is especially true concerning candles with proper use.