Candles have been used as a method of home lighting for centuries. Although the past hundred years has seen electric light bulbs overtake candles as the main lighting source in our homes, millions of decorative candles are sold every year.
There’s something about the charming, flickering glow and scent of candles that keeps us buying more.
Unfortunately, lit candle use is also the cause of many preventable home fires. FEMA estimates that there are more than 15,000 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.
Here are a few candle safety tips to review before you light your next candle:
1. Burning candles should never be left unattended.
2. Keep candles away from anything flammable.
3. If your candle is in a candle holder, it should be sturdy enough to avoid being easily knocked over.
4. Candles should be placed where children and pets can’t reach them.
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, as hot wax can splatter.
Flameless candles are a safe alternative to lit candles and produce a similar soft, glowing effect. Lit candles are not recommended for use during power outages, so use battery powered flashlights, lanterns and even flameless candles instead.
Finally, any talk of candle safety is incomplete without a reminder to check all smoke alarms in your home. Working smoke alarms greatly increase your chances of surviving a home fire, so check them every month to ensure they are working properly.
What other tips do you have to safely use candles at home?
Written by Celeste Tholen
Celeste has dedicated her career to informing the public. Through her work as an editor and writer in newsrooms like KSL and Deseret News, as well as her work on SafeWise, she’s covered topics that help people stay safe and make well-informed decisions. Learn more