Holiday Candles and Fires

A burning candle can be pleasant, even beautiful, to watch. However, if you do not monitor it, that burning candle can quickly become a destructive force. On an average day, 32 home candle fires will be reported. That is over 11,000 candle fires a year. Candle fires tend to be disproportionately destructive. While candles account for only 3% of home fires it is responsible for 6% of property damage arising from home fires. Further, 5% of home fire deaths and 7% of injuries come from candle fires. This December, we think it wise to pay special consideration to candle safety. Between 2006-2010, the top three days, those with the most reported home candle fires, were Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Christmas Eve. Candle fires show a marked increase during the holiday season, and the reasons are clear: religious, celebratory and decorative candle usage and an abundance of flammable holiday decorations. During the bulk of the year, January to November, flammable decorations account for only 4% of fires. According to the NPFA, this nearly triples in December, when festive decorations account for 11% of candle fires.

Guidelines for safe candle usage

  • Use flashlights, not candles, during a power outage or emergency

  • Do not leave candles unattended

  • Make sure smoke detectors are installed in any room you may burn a candle in

  • Extinguish candles before lying down to sleep

  • Keep candles a safe distance from any flammable materials

  • Keep candles out of reach of children and animals

  • Limit burning time; do not allow candles to burn all the way down

  • Use only a candle holder that is sturdy enough to keep your candle safely in place

  • Use only a candle holder that will catch all melted wax

  • Do not move a burning candle, do not move if any wax is still liquid

  • Do not use a candle if oxygen tanks are used in the home

  • PLEASE, do not decorate a tree with lit candles