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Research and Reports/

 Candle safety
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NFPA Fact Sheets
candle
Candle Safety

Remember that a candle is an open flame. It can easily ignite any combustible nearby.

Facts and Figures*

  • Candle fires reached a 19-year high of 12,540 in 1998, resulting in 157 deaths, 1,106 civilian injuries and $176.1 million in property damage.
  • Also see:

    carrot 

    NFPA President Miller and Dear Abby team up for candle safety

    carrot 

    Home fires caused by candles peak in `98, double over decade

    carrot 

    "Candle Fires", Marty Ahrens, NFPA, March 2001. Special analysis of causes and trends in home fires involving candles, candle fire frequency in other occupancies, and selected published incident descriptions.
    NFPA members: Download this report for free. (PDF, 95 KB).
    Non-members: See more information about this NFPA report.

    Unattended, abandoned or inadequately controlled candles are the leading cause of home candle fires (37%), followed by leaving candles too close to combustibles (19%), according to annual averages from 1994-98. Nine percent were started by children playing with candles.
  • December is the peak month for candle fires, with nearly twice the average number of incidents.
  • Almost half (44%) of home candle fires start in the bedroom.

(*From NFPA's Candle Fires in U.S. Homes and Other Occupancies)

Safety Tips:

  • Extinguish all candles when leaving the room or going to sleep.
  • Keep candles away from items that can catch fire (e.g. clothing, books, paper, curtains, Christmas trees, flammable decorations).
  • Use candle holders that are sturdy, won't tip over easily, are made from a material that can't burn and are large enough to collect dripping wax.
  • Don't place lit candles in windows, where blinds and curtains can close over them.
  • Place candle holders on a sturdy, uncluttered surface and do not use candles in places where they could be knocked over by children or pets.
  • 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 or 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.

Candles & children:

  • Keep candles up high out of reach of children.
  • Never leave a child unattended in a room with a candle. A child should not sleep in a room with a lit candle.
  • Don't allow children or teens to have candles in their bedrooms.
  • Store candles, matches and lighters up high and out children's sight and reach, preferably in a locked cabinet.

During power outages:

  • Try to avoid carrying a lit candle. Don't use a lit candle when searching for items in a confined space.
  • Never use a candle for a light when checking pilot lights or fueling equipment such as a kerosene heater or lantern. The flame may ignite the fumes.

NFPA does not test, label or approve any products.
Updated: 10/01

* Information about PDF files.
 

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