December is the peak time of year for home candle fires. In December, 13% of home candle fires began with decorations compared to 4% the rest of the year. The top five days for home candle fires were Christmas, Christmas Eve, New Year’s Day, New Year’s Eve, and Halloween.
During 2002, there were an estimated 18,000 home fires started by candles. These fires resulted in an estimated 130 civilian deaths; 1,250 civilian injuries; $333 million estimated direct property loss; and included one- and two-family dwellings, apartments and manufactured housing.
During 2005, an estimated 15,600 home structure fires started by candles were reported to local fire departments. These fires resulted in an estimated 150 civilian deaths, 1,270 civilian injuries and an estimated direct property loss of $539 million. Homes include dwellings, duplexes, manufactured housing and apartments.
- 40% of the home candle fires started in the bedroom, resulting in 30% of the associated civilian deaths.
- 50% of home candle fires occurred when some form of combustible material was left near, or came too close to, the candle.
- 18% occurred after candles were left unattended, abandoned or inadequately controlled.
- 5% were started by people (usually children) playing with the candle.
- Falling asleep was a factor in 12% of home candle fires and 25% of the home candle fire deaths.
Candle with Care
- Blow out all candles when you leave the room or go to bed. Avoid the use of candles in the bedroom and other areas where people may fall asleep.
- Keep candles at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn.
- Use candle holders that are sturdy, and won’t tip over easily.
- Put candle holders on a sturdy, uncluttered surface.
- Light candles carefully. Keep your hair and any loose clothing away from the flame.
- Don’t burn a candle all the way down — put it out before it gets too close to the holder or container.
- Never use a candle if oxygen is used in the home.
- Have flashlights and battery-powered lighting ready to use during a power outage. Never use candles.
- Extinguish all candles when leaving the room or going to sleep.
- Keep candles away from items that can catch fire, like clothing, books and curtains.
- Keep candles and all open flames away from flammable liquids.
- Keep candle wicks trimmed to one-quarter inch and extinguish taper and pillar candles when they get to within 2 inches of the holder. Votives and containers should be extinguished before the last half-inch of wax starts to melt.
National Fire Protection Association