October is Fire Prevention Month. Each year, an average of 370,000 reported home fires result in $6.9 billion in damages. When you add candle fires to that total, it translates to an average of 42 calls a day for a typical fire department!
At this time of year, I typically burn more candles. There’s nothing like walking into my home and smelling pumpkin spice, evergreen, or best of all, baked sugar cookies.
As good as they smell, however, candles can be dangerous, especially if you’re not careful. If you like to burn candles during these colder months and holidays, please keep these important safety tips in mind.
1. Keep candles away from children and pets: While candles look nice on the coffee table and add ambiance to your living room, a passing child or wagging tail can easily tip them over.
2. Keep matches and lighters in a safe place: Lighting materials should be stored up high and out of sight in a kitchen cupboard, pantry, or even a closet. When I was younger, my neighborhood friends and I were fascinated with fire. Fortunately, we never caused any significant fire damage to our homes … but we did come close.
3. Avoid using candles in the bedroom: Approximately one-third of candle fires start in a bedroom and one-half of fire deaths happen between midnight and 6:00 am.
4. Have several candle holders on hand: Candles come in many shapes and sizes so you should have the right-size holder for the candles you like to burn. And it’s important to make sure candle holders are placed on durable heat-resistant surfaces.
5. Toss the candle if it’s two inches or less: Replacing a candle more frequently costs far less than replacing your home. Don’t let a candle burn to close to the holder.
6. Avoid using water to extinguish the candle: Hot wax can splatter in all directions if doused with water. And the temperature change could cause a glass container to crack or break. Consider using a snuffer to extinguish the candle.
7. Never use candles during a power outage or as a night light: Flashlights, or other battery powered lights, are much safer than candles. Night lights are also much safer and fairly inexpensive.
8. Always keep an eye on the candle: Don’t leave a candle in an unattended room for a significant period of time. A few years ago an entire apartment complex was destroyed here in West Bend when a candle was left unattended.
9. Always follow the manufacturer’s safety recommendations: Manufacturers want you to enjoy their candles so follow their recommendations.
10. Use common sense: Make sure the area around your candle is free of clutter. Also watch for sporadic airflow around the candle which can cause the flame to shift direction. And always make sure the candle is at least 12 inches away from other household items that can burn.
If there is a fire at your home, make sure you and your family get out right away! When everyone is safe, call for help. Never return to a burning home for any reason.