Candle Safety

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

Facts and Figures:

    • During 2004, an estimated 17,200 home structure fires started by candles were reported to local fire departments. These fires resulted in an estimated 200 civilian deaths, 1,540 civilian injuries and an estimated direct property loss of $200 million. Homes include dwellings, duplexes, manufactured housing and apartments.
    • The estimated number of home candle fires fell 6% from 2003 to 2004. The number of reported home candle fires has finally started to fall after climbing steadily from 1990 to 2001.
    • Candle fires accounted for an estimated 4% of all reported home fires in 2004.
    • Thirty-eight percent (38%) of home candle fires started in the bedroom, resulting in 35% of the associated civilian deaths.
    • Reported home candle fires in 2004 is roughly two-and-a half times that of the 6,800 low reported in 1990.
    • December had almost twice the number of home candle fires of an average month.
    • More than half (54%) of home candle fires occurred when some form of combustible material was left or came too close to the candle; The candle was unattended or abandoned in 20% of the incidents; Four percent were started by people (usually children) playing with candles.
    • Falling asleep was a factor in 12% of home candle fires and 25% of the associated deaths.
    • Christmas Day was the peak day of the year for home candle fires in 2000-2004. Christmas Eve ranked second and New Years Day was third.

Source: Home Candle Fires by Marty Ahrens, November 2006.

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.