Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

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Candles: Should set the mood, not a fire

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service are warning people to take extra care if they are thinking of using candles to set a romantic mood or create a warm winter glow in their homes.

As the nights draw in, more people begin to light candles but more than 1,000 fires are started by candles each year. It is therefore vital that anyone lighting them up this winter takes a few extra precautions to stay safe.

Divisional Officer Neil Fenwick, Community Safety, said: “Candles are not an unusual sight at this time of year, they can be used to add a warm glow and pleasant aroma to homes or to help set a romantic mood but it's important to remember that they bring risk with them 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.

“Make sure that your candles set the mood and not a fire."

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.”

To arrange a free home fire safety visit call us on 0300 303 0088.

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