With the holiday season fast approaching, Jackson Hole Fire/EMS Fire Marshal Kathy Clay wants to remind the public to take proper safety precautions when it comes to the fire risk of many festive home decorations, such as burning candles.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), between 2014-2018, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 7,610 home structure fires each year that were started by candles. Those fires caused an annual average of 81 deaths, 677 injuries, and $278 million in direct property damage. December is the peak month for home candle fires with Christmas Day having the most.
“Candles may look festive and may make your home smell nice but ask yourself if it is truly necessary to have an ignition source inside your house,” said Clay. “A candle is an open flame, which means it can easily ignite to anything that can burn.”
Research from NFPA shows that three out of five candle fires start when things that can burn are too close to the candle. More than one-third of home candle fires started in the bedroom.
Clay suggests using other, more safe alternatives such as flameless candles that are battery operated and often look and smell like real candles.
Clay says that if you are going to burn candles, it is vital to follow these safety tips:
- Use candle holders that are sturdy and won’t tip over easily.
- Put candle holders on a sturdy, uncluttered surface.
- Don’t burn a candle all the way down – be sure to put it out before it gets to close to the holder or container.
- Never use a candle if oxygen is used in the home.
- 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 1 foot away from anything that can burn.
- Never leave a child or pet alone in a room with a burning candle.
- Keep matches and lighters out of reach of reach of children.
“The best option is to not burn a candle in your home,” said Clay. “Take a moment to think about how your life, or the life of someone you love, could change in an instant because a candle was not used properly or left unattended.”
Clay encourages families to regularly review their home escape plans, or to create an escape plan if one is not already in place. To view a printable escape plan and to learn more about the fire dangers of candles and other holiday decorations, please visit the Jackson Hole Fire/EMS website at http://www.tetonwyo.org/2373/Jackson-Hole-FireEMS-Department or visit the NFPA’s website at https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/Fire-causes-and-risks/Seasonal-fire-causes/Winter-holidays.