Please take extra care with candles

Wed 6 Nov, 2013

With winter approaching and the peak season for candles upon us, firefighters are asking people to take extra care.

Station Manager Roy Hocking, from Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service’s community safety team, said: “Candles can bring a pleasant scent and an atmospheric glow to a cold evening, but left unattended, an open flame can leave a trail of devastation. More than a third of all fires started by candles result in injury or death."

Last year in England, candles caused 913 fires, injuring 341 people and killing five.

Roy added: “Make sure that candles are extinguished long before bed time so there is no danger you will nod off with a candle still burning.

“It is also vitally important that all homes have a properly fitted and working smoke alarm. A working smoke alarm can give you the vital time you need to get out, stay out and call 999. Stay safe by testing your alarms regularly and practising your escape routes.”

Roy urged everyone to follow these top candle safety tips from the national Fire Kills campaign:

  • Always place candles in a sensible holder or container on a heat-resistant surface. Nightlights and tea-lights can melt plastic surfaces like TV tops and bathtubs.
  • Never leave burning candles unattended - put them out at night and when you leave the room. Candles that have been put out can go on smouldering and start a fire, so make sure they’re completely out.
  • Place your candles carefully, and don't move them once they are lit. Make sure they are on a stable surface, out of the reach of pets and children, and keep them away from flammable objects like curtains, furniture, bedding and books.
  • Do not burn several candles or tea-lights close together as this might cause the flame to flare.
  • Put candles out with a snuffer or a spoon - sparks can fly if you blow them out.
  • Always put scented candles in a heat-resistant holder. These candles are designed to liquefy when heated to maximise fragrance.
  • Keep the wax pool clear of wick trimmings, matches and other debris at all times.
  • Burn candles in a well-ventilated room, away from draughts, vents or air currents. This will help prevent rapid or uneven burning, excessive dripping or soot developing on walls.
  • Trim the wick to a quarter of an inch (just over half a centimetre) each time before burning. Long or crooked wicks can cause uneven burning, dripping or flaring.
  • Follow the manufacturer's recommendations on burn time and proper use.
  • If using matches to light candles, dispose of them carefully when they are no longer hot.
  • Fit a smoke alarm and test it regularly. A working smoke alarm can buy you valuable time to get out, stay out and call 999.
  • Make sure that everyone in your home knows what to do if a fire should occur – practise your escape route.