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Candle Safety
In 2003-2007, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 15,260 home structure fires that were started by candles. These fires caused an annual average of 166 civilian fire deaths; 1,289 civilian fire injuries; and $450 million in direct property damage.

Candle Safety Tips

  • Extinguish all candles when leaving the room or going to sleep.
  • Keep candles at least 1 foot away from things that can catch fire, like clothing, books and curtains.
  • Use candle holders that are study, won't tip over easily, are made from a material that cannot burn, and are large enough to collect dripping wax.
  • Keep candles and all open flames away from flammable liquids.
  • Keep candle wicks trimmed to one-quarter inch and extinguish taper and pillar candles when they get to within two inches of the holder. Votives and containers should be extinguished before the last half-inch of wax starts to melt.
  • During power outages, avoid carrying a lit candle. Use flashlights.
  • Use of candles in bedrooms and sleeping areas is discouraged

Facts & Figures

  • Although home candle fires fell 8% from 2004 to 2005, more than twice as many were reported in 2005 as in 1990.
  • Candle fires accounted for an estimated 4% of all reported home fires in 2005.
  • Thirty-eight percent (38%) of home candle fires started in the bedroom, resulting in 41% of the associated civilian deaths.
  • December is the peak time of year for home candle fires. In December, 13% of home candle fires began with decorations compared to 4% the rest of the year.
  • More than half of all candle fires started when something that could burn, such as furniture, mattresses or bedding, curtains, or decorations, was too close to the candle.
  • Falling asleep was a factor in 12% of home candle fires and 26% of the associated deaths.
  • The top five days for home candle fires were Christmas, Christmas Eve, New Year's Day, New Year's Eve, and Halloween.

Source: NFPA's "Home Candle Fires" report by Marty Ahrens, June 2010.

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Doug Hall
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