Nothing transforms a house into a home more quickly than a candle. However, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA, 2008), an estimated 15,600 home fires were started by candles in 2005. These fires resulted in hundreds of deaths, thousands of injuries, and an estimated property loss of over $500 million. But you needn’t stop lighting those lovely aromatic votives—simply do so with caution and awareness.
Follow these safety rules from the National Candle Association (NCA, 2008):
Always keep a burning candle within sight. Extinguish all candles before going to sleep or leaving the house.
Keep candles out of the reach of pets and children.
Always use a candleholder specifically designed for that purpose. The candleholder should be heat resistant, sturdy, and big enough to catch dripping wax. Never place pillars or candles directly on furniture.
Trim candle wicks to ¼” before lighting or re-lighting, and keep the wax free of matches, wick trimmings, dust, and other debris. An excessively long or wild flame is an indication that you may need to trim your wick.
Never touch or move a candle when the wax is liquid.
Keep lit candles at a safe distance from anything that might accidentally catch fire, such as plants, curtains, bedding, books, or other flammable items.
Avoid placing candles near open windows, ceiling fans, or any source of drafts to prevent uncontrolled flames or the blowing of flammable items into the candle.
When there’s only an inch or two of remaining wax, it’s time for a new candle.
A candle snuffer is the safest way to extinguish a flame, as blowing can produce smoke or cause hot wax to spill.
Candles really can turn a house into a home. Just be sure to keep them burning safely.