26 Feb

Simple Steps for Candle Safety

Candles are one of the easiest and most effective ways to add aroma and ambiance to a home. While many people would like to use scented candles in their homes, they may be weary of the fire risk. However, candle-related fires appear to be on the decline.

Scented candles are just one component of the larger science of aromatherapy, which is an alternative treatment that uses scents to alleviate physical and psychological disorders. Nurses and doctors at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston actually offer classes in aromatherapy to deal with cancer and other ailments. Certain scents can make a person feel more alert, while others may reduce stress and relax a person.

It is estimated that candles are used in seven out of 10 American households and that people spend around $2 billion annually on candles, according to the National Candle Association. Candles can be used for aromatherapy or to make a room feel more cozy. People who are anticipating a weather event that may knock out electrical power also rely on candles as an alternative light source.

Although using candles can lead to fires, the NCA reports that candle-related fires have dropped to their lowest level in roughly 10 years. Data shows candle fires dropped by nearly 50 percent between 2001 and 2010. That's thanks in part to the industry's safety standards and consumer education efforts.

According to a Home Candles Fires report issued by the National Fire Protection Association, there were approximately 9,600 accidental candle fires in 2010, the latest year for which figures are available, compared to a peak of 18,900 in 2001. The statistics are based on data reported by the federal government's National Fire Incidence Reporting System and NFPA's survey of fire departments.

"We are extremely pleased that candle fires are continuing to drop," said NCA executive vice president Carol Freysinger. "We believe there's no question that the industry's safety standards and educational campaign have been pivotal in reducing candle fires."

While candle fires tend to peak during the holiday season, when candles are an integral part of holiday decorating, candles are widely burned throughout the year, including during outdoor gatherings in the summertime. To reduce the risk of fire when using candles, consider these guidelines from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

  • Trim the wick to 1/4 inch each time before burning. Long wicks can cause uneven burning, dripping or flaring.
  • Use a candleholder specifically designed for candle use. It should be sturdy and heat-resistant.
  • Avoid drafts, vents or air currents that can cause rapid or uneven burning and excessive dripping.
  • Never leave a burning candle unattended.
  • Do not burn candles by or on anything that might catch fire.
  • Keep candles out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Follow the manufacturer's recommendations on burn time and proper use.
  • Don't touch or move a burning candle or when wax is liquefied.
  • Discontinue burning a candle when 2 inches of wax remains.
  • Always keep a candle within sight.
  • Extinguish all candles before bed or if you feel sleepy. The largest number of candle fires occur in the bedroom.

When used safely, candles make a welcome addition to a home.


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