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Tennessee State Fire Marshal: Candle with care

Wednesday, February 26, 2014 | 03:15am

NASHVILLE, TN – Decorative and fragranced candles are a popular piece of décor in many homes, but they are also a major concern for fire service professionals and other safety organizations. When used improperly, candles may cause significant loss of life, property, and/or cause substantial injuries. The State Fire Marshal’s Office wants to remind Tennesseans to use candles with care.

“From 2008-2012, Tennessee fire departments responded to 506 home structure fires started by candles,” says State Fire Marshal and Commerce and Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. “These fires caused nine deaths, 30 injuries, and $14.8 million in direct property damage, all of which could have been prevented with just a few cautionary steps.”

Candle fires cause damage from coast to coast. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, on average, 42 home candle fires are reported every day in the United States. Over one-third (36%) of those home candle fires begin in the bedroom. More than half of all candle fires start when something that could burn, such as furniture, mattresses, bedding, curtains, or decorations, is too close to the candle. Falling asleep is a factor in 12% of home candle fires. Young children and older adults have the highest death risk from candle fires.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office offers the following tips to keep Tennesseans safe from candle fires:

  • Consider using battery-operated flameless candles, which can look, smell, and feel like real candles.
  • When using candles, place them in sturdy, safe candleholders that will not burn or tip over.
  • Protect candle flames with glass chimneys or containers.
  • Keep candles at least 12 inches from anything that can burn.
  • Never leave a burning candle unattended.
  •  Avoid using candles in bedrooms and sleeping areas. Extinguish candles when you leave a room or the home or go to bed.
  • Keep children and pets away from burning candles. Never leave a child unattended in a room with a candle.
  • Never use a candle where medical oxygen is being used. The two can combine to create a large, unexpected fire. Medical oxygen can cause materials to ignite more easily and burn at a faster rate than normal. It can make an existing fire burn faster and hotter.
  •  Always use a flashlight—not a candle—for emergency lighting.                                                   
  • Use only battery-powered lights in tents, trailers, motor homes, and boats.
  • Lit candles should not be placed in windows, where blinds and curtains can close over them, causing a fire.


The State Fire Marshal’s Office is a division of the Department of Commerce and Insurance, which works to protect consumers while ensuring fair competition for industries and professionals who do business in Tennessee. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube



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