Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

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Candle Safety: Out Like a Light

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is asking people to take care when it comes to candles.

As the nights draw in more people begin to light candles, but they can lead to fires and it is vital that anyone lighting them up this winter takes a few extra precautions to stay safe.

Last year nationwide, candles caused 913 fires injuring 341 people and killing five.

Divisional Officer Neil Fenwick, Community Safety, said: “Candles are not an unusual sight in homes, they can be used to add a warm glow and pleasant aroma to homes but it is important to remember that they bring with them risk and cannot be treated as just another piece of furniture.

“Place your lit candles with extra care, away from curtains, pets and children and always remember to put them out when you leave the room, even for a moment.

“More people are hurt or killed when they fall asleep without extinguishing candles. The best advice we can give is to make sure that candles are extinguished long before bed time so there is no danger you will nod off with a candle still burning.”

These tips will help everyone enjoy candles safely:

- Make sure candles are secured in a proper holder and are away from materials that may catch fire – like curtains.
- Children should not be left alone with lit candles.
- Put candles out when you leave the room, and make sure they’re put out completely at night.
- Keep the wax pool clear of wick trimmings, matches and debris at all times.
- Burn candles in a well-ventilated room, but avoid drafts, vents or air currents. This will help prevent rapid or uneven burning, sooting, and excessive dripping.
- Trim the wick to ¼ inch each time before burning. Long or crooked wicks can cause uneven burning, dripping or flaring.
- Don’t move candles once they are lit.
- Follow the manufacturer's recommendations on burn time and proper use.
- Do not burn several candles close together as this might cause flaring (mainly with tealights).
- Use a snuffer or a spoon to put out candles. It’s safer than blowing them out when sparks can fly.

DO Fenwick said: “By taking a few simple precautions you can help make sure that you can use candles safely.

“It is also vitally important that all homes have a properly fitted and working smoke alarm. Smoke alarms are without doubt the most important piece of equipment in any home, they sound at the first sign of fire giving everyone a chance to get out and call the fire service.

“They are proven life savers but it is vital to make sure that they are in full working order, a non-functioning smoke detector will not provide any warning at all.”

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