Information courtesy of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). NFPA releases safety alerts for
consumers on a regular basis, and the following alert is taken from one of their publications. Fire chiefs are
reporting similar trends re candles in Canada.
According to the most recent national statistics from the NFPA (1997), there has been an alarming upward trend in
home candle fires in the United States since 1991.
In NFPA’s study, one-third (36%) of home candle fires started when the candle was left unattended, abandoned or
inadequately controlled, almost one-fifth (18%) of home candle fires occurred because the candle was too close to
combustible materials, and 9% of home candle fires were started by children playing with the candles.
While almost half (44%) of all candle fires start in the bedroom, the usage of candles for holiday decorating alters
this pattern during December, with a higher number of home candle fires starting in the family room or dining room,
In December, 29% of home candle fires begin in the family room or den (compared to 17% during the rest of the
year). Fifteen percent of the December home candle fires began when decorations were ignited, compared to only
3% during the rest of the year.
NFPA offers the following tips for 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 Christmas trees, flammable decorations,
clothing, books, paper, curtains, etc.
- Make sure candles are placed on a secure piece of furniture, in sturdy holders that will not tip over. Make
sure candle-holders are non-combustible 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 ¼ inch, and extinguish candles when they burn down to within 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.