on’t let candles burn you

on’t let candles burn you

Image Credit: File

Candles are used for a variety of reasons, from holiday celebrations and gatherings, to creating a candle-lit dinner aura, to creating a pleasant mood to simply relax.

However beautiful and relaxing candles may be, they come with a real downside. Candles are a major contributor to home fires, especially in the months of December and January.

According to the National Fire Protection Agency, from 2015-19 U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 7,400 home structure fires each year that were started by candles. These fires caused an annual average of 90 deaths, 670 injuries and nearly $300 million in direct property damage.

Christmas decorations and candles are often a combination people like to use to decorate for the holidays. That produces even greater danger.

“Never place lit candles on or near a Christmas tree and keep any lit candles at least 12 inches away from decorations or anything that can catch fire,” Chief Kyle Miller of Holmes Fire District #1 said.

Miller said the department generally tries to dissuade people from using real lit candles. He said alternatives are using the flameless luminary candles that create the same appeal. For those who enjoy the fragrance scented candles emit, switch to electric wax warmers that create the desired scent by slowly warming and melting scented wax cubes.

If the lit candle is a must for someone’s home, there are certain easy rules to follow that create a safer way to light candles.

Before lighting a candle, it essential to follow certain details to ensure it doesn’t turn out to be a fire hazard. Before lighting a candle, ensure its wick is a quarter of an inch. You can use scissors or wick trimmers to cut it to the recommended length. This helps avoid long and uneven burning.

Also, make sure to keep the wick trimmings and any matches out of the wax pool, which should be always kept clear. Use a designated candleholder that is heat resistant and large enough to hold the melting wax drips.

Avoid wind drafts for even burning, keep any loose clothing away and use long matches to light the candle. Finally, do not let the candle burn for more than four hours, and if you intend to relight it, do so after two hours of cooling.

Once a candle is burning, there are important details that should be adhered to. While the candle is burning, don’t leave it unattended for long. At the same time, the candle’s surrounding should be clear of anything flammable like papers, decorations, books and other flammable items.

Place the burning candle out of the reach of children or pets. This will prevent the candle from being knocked down by children or any other person in your household, and most importantly, never leave a child in a room where a burning candle is present.

As the candle burns, do not move or touch it. Do not move or touch the liquefied wax either.

As the candle burns, don’t let it burn to completion. Extinguish the flame at one-half and 2 inches for container and pillar candle burning, respectively.

To prevent candles from melting each other, place them at least 3 inches apart. The distance also prevents improper burning that arises from their draft.

If the candle flickers repeatedly or produces a long flame, put it off and trim the wick before you light it again.

Do not use candles as night lights and put them off if you think you may fall asleep. Falling asleep with a lit candle burning is one of the main culprits in candle-related fires.

Miller said he remembers too vividly responding to a home fire that took place when a couple had left a lit candle unattended, both having fallen asleep with the candle next to them. That couple was fortunate to narrowly escape the fire, where a once-small flame spread and consumed their home. Others are not as fortunate.

“They fell asleep, and the glass casing that the candle was in broke and the tray it was on caught fire. It moved across the carpet and to the drapes,” Miller said. “The candle had burned down enough that the glass got hot and kind of just exploded.”

There also are some safer ways to extinguish a lit flame. The best way to properly put out a flame is by candle snuffers because they prevent splattering of hot wax.

Never use water to put out a candle. It may cause the glass to break and wax splattering as well.

After extinguishing the candle, ensure there is no glow on the wick before leaving the room.

Avoid touching the candle until it cools off to avoid being burnt.

Do not use sharp objects to remove the wax drippings from the glass. Such objects cause scratches, weakening of the glass or even breakages.

“Just take precautions and make good decisions, especially at this time of the year,” Miller said. “Live Christmas trees and pine needles dry out quickly, so take the necessary steps to be as safe as possible.”