Whether for ambiance, scent, or religious ceremony, candles are ever-present this time of year. While you’re making merry and enjoying time with your family and friends, position any open flame with care.Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day are the top days of the year to experience a home candle fire, according to data compiled in a report by the National Fire Protection Association. This is most likely due to both the rise in candle use during the winter holidays as well as the increase of flammable objects in the surrounding areas (such as live trees, wrapping paper, and decorations). In fact, slightly more than half of home candle fires occur when some form of combustible material is too close to the candle.
More Frequent Than You ThinkThough December may be the worst month for home structure fires started by candles, such fires happen throughout the year. On average, 29 home candle fires were reported every day for an estimated 10,630 total fires each year from 2007 to 2011. These fires caused an average of 115 civilian deaths annually as well as 903 civilian fire injuries and $418 million in direct property damage. During that four-year period, candles caused 3 percent of the reported home fires, 4 percent of home fire deaths, 7 percent of home fire injuries, and 6 percent of direct property damage.
Think about it: The majority of houses are constructed from or decorated with flammable materials.More than one-third (36 percent) of the home candle fires studied started in the bedroom where there were mattresses, curtains, clothes, and more. Seven percent of the fires began with cabinetry, while upholstered furniture such as that found in living rooms and family rooms was first ignited in 6 percent of the fires, resulting in one-quarter of the home candle fire deaths.
Staying SafeA candle is an open flame, which means that it can easily ignite anything that can burn. Practice candle safety by remembering to:
- Keep candles at least 12 inches from anything that can burn.
- Never leave a burning candle unattended.
- Use sturdy candle holders on a secure, uncluttered surface.
- Keep your hair and any loose clothing away when lighting the flame.
- Put the candle out before it gets too close to the holder or container.