Fire Safety Tips for Candles in the Home

They're pretty and set the mood, but unfortunately, candle use is the cause of many preventable home fires. There are more than 7,600 home candle fires every year, many resulting in injury or even death. More than half of these fires start because the candles are too close to combustible materials, which is something that can be easily preventable.

Candle safety tips

Here are a few candle safety tips to review before you light your next candle.

1. Don't leave burning candles unattended, even if you're going for a short walk with Fido. 

2. Keep candles away from anything flammable, including bedding, curtains, and papers.

3. If your candle is in a candle holder, the holder should be sturdy enough to avoid being easily knocked over. Skip the wobbly pedestal holders.

4. Candles should be placed where children and pets can’t reach them. Also, never underestimate their climbing abilities.

5. The National Candle Association recommends that candlewicks be trimmed to ¼ inch each time before burning. Long wicks can cause uneven burning and dripping.

6. Keep the pool of wax in the candle clear of debris such as wick trimmings.

7. Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for candle use. Most candles should be burned for only a couple of hours at a time.

8. Extinguish candles with a candle snuffer rather than blowing them out. Hot wax can splatter with just a puff of breath.

9. Keep a fire extinguisher on hand in case something goes horribly wrong. Check out these top fire extinguishers to find one for your home.

Candle alternatives

Flameless candles are a safe alternative to lit candles and produce a similar soft, glowing effect. Also, lit candles are not recommended for use during power outages, so use battery-powered flashlights, lanterns, and even flameless candles instead.

Get smoke smart

Finally, our warnings about candle safety aren't complete without a reminder to check all smoke alarms in your home. Working smoke alarms greatly increase your chances of surviving a home fire. Remember to check them every month to ensure they are working properly.

Related pages on Safewise

Celeste Tholen
Written by
Celeste Tholen
Celeste has dedicated her decade-long career to reporting and reviews that help people make well-informed decisions. She oversees editorial strategy and production for SafeWise, with a goal to help people find the information they need to make their homes and lives safer. Prior to SafeWise, she worked as an editor and reporter for KSL and Deseret News. She continues to report on local news as a volunteer with the community paper. For the last six years, she’s led a Girl Scout troop, teaching girls about safety and preparing for whatever life throws their way.

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