Candle Fire Safety and Injury Prevention

Special to The Informer | 12/29/2008, 12:40 p.m.

The holiday season is upon us and many traditional and religious celebrations will occur during the festive month of December. Holiday decorations and celebrations will typically involve the use of candles. The Prince George's County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department encourages citizens and residents to use candles with care. Candles may be beautiful, but too often they are the cause of home fires. As the popularity of candles have increased, so have the number of fires and fire related injuries associated with candles, burning incense and oils.

Overall, candle fires generate as many as three times as many home fires as they did 10 years ago. This dramatic increase can be attributed to consumer popularity with advances in the manufacturing and marketing of these products.

* Candles are responsible for 71 percent of December home fires that begin as a result of improper decorating practices.
* December has the highest amount of home fires caused by candles with January coming in second.
* The majority of home fires that involve candles originate in a bedroom.

A Greenbelt apartment fire on Wed., Dec. 10, is a tragic reminder of the devastation that can be caused by something seemingly as innocent and beautiful as a lit candle. The fire caused an estimated $250,000 in fire loss and displaced 14 families. Use flashlights for temporary lighting in power outages, not candles. Keep plenty of fresh batteries on hand during thunderstorm seasons.

€ Never leave a room where candles are lit. Always blow them out.
€ Never place decorations near an open flame.
€ Keep candles away from decorations, curtains, bedding, paper, furniture and other combustible materials.
€ Keep candles out of the reach and path of children and pets to avoid the risk of having them accidentally tipped over.
€ Have a working smoke alarm on every level of your home and in every bedroom.
€ Never allow children or teens to have candles in their bedrooms.
€ Extinguish all candles when leaving the room or when going to sleep.
€ Keep candles away from items that can catch fire such as clothing, books, paper, curtains, Christmas trees, flammable decorations or anything else that burns.
€ Make sure candles are placed on a stable piece of furniture in sturdy holders that won't tip over. Candles should fit in the holders securely and holders should be made from material that can't burn.
€ Make sure the candleholder is big enough to collect dripping wax.
€ Don't place lit candles in windows, where blinds or curtains can close over them.
€ Do not use candles in places where they could be knocked over by children or pets.
€ Keep candles and all open flames away from flammable liquids.
€ When purchasing or using candles, consider what would happen if the candle burned low. Could it burn the candleholder or decorative material nearby?
€ Avoid candles with combustible items embedded in them.

Extinguish taper and pillar candles when they get within two inches of the holder or decorative material. Votives and container candles should be extinguished before the last 1/2 inch of wax starts to melt.