State Fire Marshal: Candle Fires Are Preventable
NASHVILLE – Decorative and fragranced candles are popular décor in many homes, especially during the winter months. However, candles have caused significant loss of life, injury and property damage when used improperly. On the heels of this winter’s dangerous ice storm, the State Fire Marshal’s Office reminds Tennesseans to always use candles with care.
“From 2009 to 2013, Tennessee fire departments responded to 464 home structure fires that were started by candles,” said Julie Mix McPeak, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance. “These fires caused nine deaths, 28 injuries and $10.38 million in direct property damage, all of which could have been prevented with just a few cautionary steps.”
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), roughly one-third of home candle fires started in the bedroom. More than half of all candle fires start when things that can burn are too close to the candle. 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.