27 November 2015

With Christmas drawing closer, many candles are purchased to help lend festive cheer to celebrations.

But candles are not without their risks. In Northamptonshire, between April 1, 2014 and March 31, 2015, a total of 13 domestic fires were linked to the use of candles. Within these fires, four people were injured.

In the same period during the preceding year (2013-2014), six domestic fires were identified as having a candle as the root cause, and three people were injured.

Since 2009, one person has died in a domestic fire in which the cause was the use of a candle.

Nationally, during 2013-2014, there were 796 candle fires in which nine people died. Candle fires also result in about 350 casualties each year.

Fire hazard

Officers at Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service are now urging people to snuff out any potential fire hazards by making sure they use candles safely.

Tips to safe candle use:

  • Make sure that when in use, candles are secured in a proper holder and away from materials that may catch fire, like curtains
  • Trim the wick to one quarter of an inch each time before burning. Long or crooked wicks can cause uneven burning, dripping or flaring
  • Children should not be left alone with lit candles.
  • Put candles out when you leave the room, and make sure they’re put out completely at night
  • Keep the wax pool clear of wick trimmings, matches and debris at all times
  • Burn candles in a well-ventilated room, but avoid drafts, vents or air currents. This will help prevent rapid or uneven burning and excessive dripping
  • Don’t move candles once they are lit
  • Do not burn several candles close together as this might cause the flame to flare (mainly with tea-lights)
  • Use a snuffer or a spoon to put out candles. It’s safer then blowing them out when sparks fly

Smoke alarm

Ian Walpole, fire investigation officer at Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Candles are a typical sight in many homes. It is important to remember that a candle is not just a decorative feature. Left unattended, an open flame scenting your home could leave a trail of devastation.

“It’s vital to be prepared should the worst happen. A working smoke alarm can give you the vital time you need to get out, stay out and call 999. Keep yourself and your loved ones safe by testing your alarm regularly and by practising your escape routes.”