Candle safety : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) Preparation Forum : One Thread

From USAA members magazine.

"Never leave a burning candle unattended." It's a message you've heard so often that you might find it hard to believe that in 1996, the latest year for which statistics are available, candles caused a record 9,930 fires in homes. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), those fires resulted in 126 deaths and $170.6 million in property damages.

USAA Property Claims Administrator Mike Poehling has handled dozens of claims--some from major fires--that resulted from candles. Since 1990, candle fires have risen more than 80 percent nationwide. These days candles in all shapes, scents and sizes appear in bathrooms, kitchens and bedrooms, among other places. Sales figures, which have doubled in recent years, also suggest that candles are becoming more popular.

As candle usage grows, don't get careless. Follow these NFPA tips to enjoy your candles safely.

...Burn candles in the center of a 1-foot "circle of safety," away from anything that could ignite.

...Stop using a candle after it burns down to about half an inch.

...Extinguish candles before you leave the room or go to sleep.

...Keep wicks trimmed to one-fourth inch.

...Place candles on a secure piece of furniture and in sturdy holders that won't tip over.

...Use candle holders that are large enough to collect dripping wax.

...Don't place candles where they could be knocked over by children or pets.

...Don't use water to extinguish candles--or any fire involving burning wax. (Water can cause the wax to spatter and possibly sprad the flames.) Blow out candles or use a snuffer. In the event of a candle fire, evacuate everyone and call firefighters. Then, if the fire is small and containable, extinguish it with an ABC multipurpose fire extinguisher.

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-- Old Git (, October 23, 1999


Last fall we got caught unprepared during a surprise snow storm. We were totally snowbound, no electricity for a day and a half and no fuel for our kerosene heater (oops!). We did have a lot of candles, however, and several of those cheesey popcorn tins (you know, the ones they sell for Christmas?). Anyway, I put 4-5 candles in each tin and they made dandy little space heaters. The only problem we had was our knothead cat who kept peeking over the rim of the tins to see what was in there--he melted most of his whiskers. I wouldn't recommend setting the tins on carpet or vinyl flooring because the sides get hot. We set ours on ceramic tiles which we had an abundance of at that time.

-- Sam Mcgee (, October 23, 1999.

Thank-you, Old Git and Sam. Those of us who have never needed to burn candles longer than for a romantic evening- need all sorts of safety tips! My experience has shown me not to place candles on my coffee table. My large dog's tail quickly swept it to the floor!

-- mwerks3 (, October 23, 1999.

Furthermore: some rock and gem shops, or "Crystals & magical Gift shops" will have large bricks of quarts, rosequartz, honey quartz, or other common crystals with holes drilled into them 2-3 inches. These are very heavy candle holders and will accept a standrad votive candle, pumpkin candle, etc.. They illuminate the crystal from within, and are not only safe from overturnign becuase of their wieght, but very beautifl.. Not hte cheapaest emergency supplies, but very reassuring to have on hand.

-- Roch Steinbach (, October 23, 1999.

Couldn't you also create a "reflector" to help reflect the heat back towards you? I've heard of wrapping cardboard with aluminum foil. Make sure the cardboard has "wings" so that it will stand upright (it could also be braced with bricks or heavy objects. This might help to spread out (instead of up) the heat and the lighten up the room too.

Make sure you keep the candles away from curtains, tablecloths, blankets or other flammable objects. If you're wearing heavy clothing, be very, very careful of how close the flame is to you.

-- Deb (, October 23, 1999.

Reflectors, yes. Colonial-era candle holders and sconces often came with built in reflectors. Mirrors are best. For safety, I'd recommend shiny aluminum pie plates or cookie sheets, maybe thumbtacked to the wall behind the candle. (But not tinfoil hats--you need them!)

-- Old Git (, October 23, 1999.

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