Candles are a popular item in many homes not only during the Christmas season but year round. Candles can set soft light for a romantic dinner or non-electric light for watching television. They can warm potpourri and offer a variety of scents. However the risk of open flame means using candles wisely and taking precautions to insure safety.
Position your candles on a solid surface out of reach of children or pets. Using candles wisely means not setting it near an edge where the cat can knock it off the shelf or the dog or child reaching for a treasure tips it into the curtain behind it. Use the right kind of candle in the right place.
Tea lights and small candles provide a smaller more controlled use but still generate heat. The large pillar candles can burn for hours but far too many people simply set them on a wobbly plate or on the shelf. Tapered candles are attractive but must be secured solidly on a holder that doesn’t tip with the weight.
Here’s a few possible safety features for using candles in the home. For small candles reuse a clean glass jar, with some clean sand (maybe even a few decorative small shells!) in the bottom. Place the candle in the sand obviously you will need a larger jar for the large pillar candles than the smaller votive ones. This provides the light from the candles while reducing the chances that being tipped over results in a fire. First the sand extinguishes flame and also the glass increases the chance it’ll be confined in the jar not on something flammable. This is why *glass* not plastic jars are preferred. Also the candle is easily “confined” when extinguished for the night with the lid simply put on the jar. Using candles wisely this increases the chances that in the case of accidental tipping of the candle it would not catch anything on fire.
Another less visible possibility is taking a clean metal can, filling with water and freezing. When solidly frozen, using a hammer and hails put a “connect the dot” pattern in the side of the can. When the ice melts out you are left with a can with holes in it a little sand in the bottom and you have a metal candle holder that instead of showing an open flame shows an original pattern of artwork. This is an easy winter craft for older children to do.
Never leave a candle burning unattended, even with this precaution. Fire spreads far too easily to give it any kind of a head start! Keep the candles away from flammables. This seems obvious but often we don’t see things until it is too late. Using candles wisely means looking for these hidden hazards’ and eliminating them.
Keep the candles out of drafts or air currents to allow for more even burning and less dripping of hot wax. Resist moving a lit candle to prevent spilling hot wax and dropping the candle. Using candles wisely is not difficult but it does take a few points of attention to details and preventing any intentional or accidental ignition of items around the candle.
Some fire statistics shows that where candles are involved 38% of them began in the bedroom. Of those the ignition point was mattresses or bedding (11%) and curtains or draperies (10%). This is a great many fires prevented just using the above precautions a headboard is not a stable surface and if one falls asleep it’s far too easy to knock over a lit candle. Keeping candles away from draperies is essential also. According to the US Fire Administration falling asleep is a factor in 12% of the fires and a quarter of the deaths from those fires. Half of the fires from candles occur between midnight and 6 a.m. with, tragically, Christmas being the peak time.
This is not a reason to avoid candles or stop using them! Instead it is a call to use candles wisely have precautions in place and follow safety measures every time. Candles add much to our homes and many of us enjoy using them, but practice using candles wisely and safely every time you light one up.