Bright candles always add a touch of class to home décor. Whether during a romantic dinner or a festive celebration, there’s no denying the beauty that candles add to a room.
Although candle displays may look peaceful, they can be incredibly dangerous if mishandled. Just one minor mistake in handling these candles could burn your house to the ground. Even worse, home fires caused by candles could lead to severe injury or death.
Anyone planning on using flame-lit candles on their property needs to practice basic fire safety techniques. While these strategies may seem simplistic, they can significantly bolster your safety when lighting candles.
What Are The Most Dangerous Scenarios For Lit Candles?
Before getting into specific safety strategies, homeowners need to recognize how dangerous candles can be. A deeper understanding of candle fires could help people re-think their home décor strategies before lighting their first candle.
First off, the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) estimates that candles caused 7,400 fires in the USA between 2015 – 2019. That translates to roughly four fires in the USA every day.
Unfortunately, these fires result in 90 fatalities and 670 severe burns or other injuries per year. In terms of property lost, the NFPA estimates Americans pay $291 million in candle-related fire damages each year.
Researchers pinpointed one room as the primary spot for candle fires: the bedroom. According to NFPA statistics, 37 percent of all candle fires began in this room. Even more shocking, at least 10 percent of candle-related home fires started while everyone at home was asleep.
Another significant stat from the NFPA has to do with candle placement. In 60 percent of home fires, the candle was less than 12 inches away from easily combustible materials.
Lastly, the NFPA points out that candle fires are most often associated with the winter holidays. Indeed, most candle-related fires happen in December or January every year.
How Could People Prevent Candle-Related Fires?
The most obvious solution to reducing candle-related fires is to stop using traditional wax candles. Instead, safety experts recommend opting for battery-powered flowers that mimic the real thing.
While nothing could replace the allure of a flame-lit candle, many fake candle models give a similar effect. People with a small space or a lot of clutter will significantly reduce their risk of fires if they use these battery-powered units.
For those who are dead-set on using flame-lit candles, there are a few safety tips that could reduce the odds of a fire. For starters, it’s essential to place candles at least one foot away from anything that could catch fire. People should also be mindful of any clutter in the area.
When lighting candles, people should avoid wearing loose fitting clothing that could easily catch on fire. It’s also crucial for anyone with long hair to pull it back before lighting a match or turning on a lighter.
Safety experts advise using durable candle holders made with materials like metal or ceramic. Many glass candle containers could also protect candles from accidentally triggering a fire.
People should also invest in a candle stopper to put out the flame just before it completely burns out. The NFPA also reminds homeowners to put out candles before going to bed. Those who are extra forgetful should set a reminder on their smartphone to put out candles later in the day.
Parents who have children at home must keep all flames and matches carefully stowed away in a difficult-to-reach area. It’s never wise to have children handle fire-related equipment or candles.
The NFPA also warns against using candles after an electrical outage. Instead, homeowners should keep flashlights throughout their homes to use in an emergency. People should also save plenty of backup batteries to avoid using candles if they don’t have electricity.
Could Candles Release Toxic Fumes In the Air?
Although fire is the most significant safety risk associated with candles, many people are curious whether these items pose a health threat. Notably, some customers have raised concerns over volatile gases released as candles burn indoors.
While a few studies suggest paraffin wax candles could give off volatile gases, there’s no data this is enough to pose a significant threat to human health. The same could be said for more exotic compounds found in scented candles.
The official stance of the European Candle Association is that candles don’t give off enough adverse chemicals to warrant concern. However, there are ways people could minimize their exposure to these volatile compounds if they’re extra concerned.
For instance, the European Candle Association always recommends trimming long candle wicks when they reach about 10 mm. People should also use a candle stopper to put out flames rather than blowing them out.
Most significantly, homeowners should double-check their ventilation system is up to date. Although not necessary, people could also use an air purification device in whichever room they have their candles in.
If customers are still concerned about chemicals from candles, it’s best to stick with battery-operated devices that mimic candles. Organizations like the NFPA also suggest people with lung conditions or who need supplemental oxygen avoid lighting candles.
Be Extra Safe When Burning Candles!
Candles are pleasing to behold, but they can quickly burn your house. Thankfully, there are plenty of techniques property owners could put into place when using candles.
If electric candles aren’t an option, it’s essential to place flame-lit candles far from combustible materials. It’s also best for anyone dealing with candles to use safety equipment like sturdy holders and set alerts on their phone to remember to put these candles out.
Ideally, people should never put candles in the bedroom, as this is the most common area for candle-related burns, injuries, and deaths. People with medical conditions that require additional oxygen should also avoid using candles indoors.
By following all these strategies, homeowners could still enjoy beautiful indoor candles without a high risk for damage or injuries.