State Fire Marshal Encourages Care with Candles

State Fire Marshal Encourages Tennesseans to Candle with Care
Candle Fires Caused Nearly $4 Million Property Damage in 2015

NASHVILLE –Decorative and fragranced candles are a popular piece of home décor, but they are also a major concern with fire service professionals and other safety organizations. When used improperly, candles have caused loss of life, injury, and significant property damage. The State Fire Marshal’s Office wants to remind Tennesseans to use candles with care.

“Last year, Tennessee fire departments responded to 63 home structure fires that were started by candles,” said Gary West, Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance Deputy Commissioner for Fire Prevention. “These fires caused nearly $4 million in direct property damage, all of which could have been prevented with just a few cautionary steps.”

Candle fires have made a dangerous impact on the nation as a whole. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), on average, 25 home candle fires are reported every day in the United States. Over one-third (36%) of home candle fires begin in the bedroom. More than half of all candle fires start when something that could burn, such as furniture, mattresses or bedding, curtains, or decorations is too close to the candle. Falling asleep is a factor in 11% of home candle fires and 32% of the associated deaths. Young children and older adults have the highest death risk from candle fires.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office offers the following tips to keep Tennesseans safe from candle fires:

  • Consider using battery-operated flameless candles, which can look, smell, and feel like real candles.
  • When using candles, place them in sturdy, safe candleholders that will not burn or tip over.
  • Protect candle flames with glass chimneys/containers.
  • Keep candles at least 12 inches from anything that can burn.
  • Never leave a burning candle unattended. Extinguish candles when you leave a room or the home or go to bed.
  • Avoid using candles in bedrooms and sleeping areas.
  • Keep children and pets away from burning candles. Never leave a child unattended in a room with a candle.
  • Never use a candle where medical oxygen is being used. The two can combine to create a large, unexpected fire. Medical oxygen can cause materials to ignite more easily and burn at a faster rate than normal. It can make an existing fire burn faster and hotter.
  • Always use a flashlight—not a candle—for emergency lighting.
  • Use only battery-powered lights in tents, trailers, motor homes, and boats.
  • Lit candles should not be placed in windows, where blinds and curtains can close over them, causing a fire.