Candles are no longer a necessity, rather a part of the décor in your living room, bedroom or bathroom. While people use it less, it is important to keep in mind that a burning candle is still an open flame. This means that it can easily ignite anything that’s close. Jim Bullock, former deputy chief of the New York City Fire Department and current president and CFO of NY Fire Consultants, warns that candles start fires in homes all the time.
According to NFPA, during the five-year period of 2015-2019:
- Candles caused 2% of reported home fires, 3% of home fire deaths, 6% of home fire injuries, and 4% of the direct property damage in home fires.
- Roughly one-third (37%) of home candle fires started in bedrooms. These fires caused 35% of the associated deaths and 47% of the associated injuries.
- Falling asleep was a factor in 10% percent of the home candle fires and 12% of the associated deaths.
- On average, 20 home candle fires were reported per day.
- Three of every five (60%) of home candle fires occurred when some form of combustible material was left or came too close to the candle.
- Candle fires peak in December and January with 11 percent of candles fires in each of these months.
Burning Candle – Safety Tips
Here are important some candle safety tips you need to keep in mind in order to be safe from a candle fire hazard.
Use Candle Holders
Use sturdy candle holders that do not risk tipping over. Most candle holders are made of metal or glass. Do not place the candle on plastic furniture if it is going to burn for many hours, only use heat resistance surfaces.
Keep Candles At Least 1 Foot Away From Anything That Can Catch Fire
Candles are a fire hazard simply because they are open flames. Do not place them anywhere near curtains, drapes, bedding, books, paper goods or other flammable decorations.
Keep your desk or surface uncluttered to avoid nearby objects from overheating and catching fire.
Do Not Use Candles As A Light Source During A Power Outage
If the power goes out, use flashlights or lanterns instead of candles. People are tempted to spread candles in their homes during a power outage, but this is a fire hazard. During a power cut, you are more likely to place candles near flammable objects on the furniture, near curtains or drapes.
Do Not Leave The Burning Candle Unattended
Up to 11% of candle fires were caused by the fact that people fell asleep and therefore left the burning candle unattended. Do not light a candle if you are feeling sleepy or you are about to leave. Always put it out before leaving the house or even the room if you are gone for a longer period. Just as important, do not leave the candles unattended if there are children or pets around, as they might knock them over by accident.
Use Long Matches or A Long-Reach Lighter
Keep your fingers safe by using a long match to light your candle. Tie your hair if it is long and keep loose sleeves and clothes away from the flame.
Install Smoke Alarms
You should have smoke alarms on each level of your home, inside each bedroom, on the hallways and other rooms. Test your alarms monthly and replace them once every 10 years or when needed.
What Happens If You Burn A Candle Too Long?
Candles usually stop burning on their own. However, even in the best conditions, letting a candle burn all the way down is a fire hazard. Candle labels advise you otherwise, as the holder or container might overheat. It is best practice to put the burning candle out when there is half an inch left in the holder or 2 inches if you are using a pillar candle. Follow the candle warning labels regarding the burn time and use. Usually, they recommend that you do not burn the candle for more than 4 hours and that you let it cool for two hours before using it again.
Can A Candle In A Glass Jar Start A Fire?
Using a glass jar as a candle container is considered best practice. The glass prevents the open flame from reaching any flammable objects and setting your house on fire. Even then, make sure to keep the candle at least 1 foot away from any curtains or other items that might catch fire.
Do not place the candle directly on a plate, as the open flame can spread. If you want to burn a candle for a longer time, place it in a glass container located on a metal tray or a basin filled with water.
How To Put Out A Candle Fire
Burning candles is similar to burning grease on the stove and causing a kitchen fire. The most important thing to remember is that you should never use water to extinguish any of them.
Water can cause the wax to splatter and spread the fire on to your curtains, clothes or any other flammable objects.
It is best practice to use a candle snuffer, as you will not splatter the hot wax. Fire feeds on oxygen, so if you take that away, the flame will go out on its own.
In case the fire gets out of control, use a multipurpose Class ABC extinguisher.
Does Homeowner’s Insurance Cover Candle Fire?
Most homeowner’s policies cover fire damage, whether due to natural causes or by accident. Leaving a candle unattended often leads to a house fire and can cause serious financial loss. Insurance policies will cover the fire damage restoration expenses. You should check with your insurance company to see what exactly is covered and how you can use your insurance in case of fire damage.
Burning Candle Causing House Fires In New York
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Candles can cause a fire when they’re left unattended or near flammable materials. Furniture, curtains, and paper are all vulnerable around candles. It’s also important to mention that candles on certain surfaces, such as plastic decor or wooden tables, can ignite due to the heat.
In general, candles in glass jars are safer than an open flame. However, the fire can spread to flammable materials if the glass shatters due to poor quality. Buying candles from a reputable manufacturer can prevent these issues, but you should still follow candle safety guidelines.
There’s no set time, as it depends on the size of your candle and the manufacturer you buy from. In general, you should avoid burning a candle for more than three to four hours, as anything longer than this can lead to soot buildup, compromising your safety and making the flame uncontrollable.
It goes without saying that leaving a candle overnight is a highly risky decision and a fast way to put your home at risk of fires. The candle can fall over, igniting items it comes into contact with, or it can burn down entirely and ignite the container. Ensuring you extinguish candles before bed is the best way to avoid these risks.