Increasingly, firefighters arrive on the scene of a deadly blaze to discover the destruction had begun from something so harmless-looking as a lit candle. Most of us in the fire service don't say we're shocked by this, because we've all seen plenty of candle trouble. We do feel great concern, though, when we learn that every day in the U.S. there will be about 35 fires started, just by candles.
According to the 2011 data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there were 9,100 fires caused by candles in the U.S., resulting in 90 deaths, 870 injuries, and $313 million in property damage.
The NFPA reports that December is the peak month, with almost twice the average number of candle fires.
Rise in Popularity
Nationally, home candle fires have doubled in number over the last decade. An increasing demand for candles has driven a once modest market for the religious and the romantic to an industry where aromatherapy and room fresheners now rule. Every color, size, and shape imaginable, and some marketed to young children, have all added to the candle rage. With such popularity come more risks for fire and fire deaths.
- Always extinguish all candles when leaving the room, or going to sleep.
- Keep candles away from items that can catch fire like clothing, books, paper, curtains, and combustible decorations.
- Use candleholders that are sturdy, won't tip over easily, are made from a material that can't burn, and is large enough to collect dripping wax.
- Never place lighted candles in windows, where blinds and curtains can close over them.
- Always place candleholders on a sturdy, uncluttered surface, and do not use candles in places where they could be knocked over by children or pets.
- Keep candlewicks trimmed to one-quarter inch, and extinguish taper and pillar candles when they get to within two inches of the holder of decorative material.
- Votives and containers should be extinguished before the last half-inch of wax starts to melt. Avoid candles with combustible items embedded in them.
- Above all, always remember that a candle is an open flame, and can easily ignite any nearby combustibles.