Alas, the season of lights is also the season of home candles fires.
Candles are one of the most beautiful, atmospheric and romantic ways to celebrate the holiday season at home. They are also one of the greatest home safety threats of the holiday season.
“Let’s not forget: a candle is an open flame,” cautions Lisa Braxton of the National Fire Prevention Association.
December is the peak calendar time for home candle fires, with fires jumping 1.5 times the national monthly average, the United States Fire Administration reports. Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Year’s Eve are the top three days for candle fires in America. According to the USFA, this year alone candles will cause an estimated 15,600 residential fires (an average of 25 per day) and $539 million in direct property damage. On average, 115 people die annually from home candle fires and another 903 are injured according to the NFPA.
The source behind more than half of all home candle fires is highly flammable objects like furniture, mattresses or bedding, curtains and decorations placed too close to the candle. Candles are also the villains behind 14 percent of U.S. home Christmas tree fires.
First rule of home candles: Never fall asleep to an open flame. Fall asleep with a candle in your room and you could wake up to the nightmare of your bedroom in flames. About one-third of home candle fires originate in bedrooms and falling asleep is a factor in 11 percent of home candle fires. Bedroom fires caused 32 percent of the associated deaths and 47 percent of the associated injuries occurring from home candle fires.
Another 14 percent of home candle fires start in bathrooms and 11 percent begin in kitchens and cooking areas.
Here are easy ways to keep a cap on the fury of your candles’ potentially dangerous flames during this holiday season:
- Flames Out After Dark: Never leave the house or fall asleep with candles burning and never leave a lit candle unattended.
- Keep candles away from drafts and open windows and doors.
- Keep candles at least 12 inches from anything that can burn.
- Keep candles out of the reach of children and pets. Children should never be left alone in a room with an open flame. Also remember, children should never be allowed to play with matches, lighters or candles.
- Place candles in sturdy metal, glass or ceramic holders and placed where they can’t be easily tipped over or knocked down.
Home candles spice up the scent and spirit of the holidays, but they can also quickly send your home up in flames. Keep your holidays bright and your home’s fires reserved to the fire place by taking smart home candle safety measures.