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Candles: set the mood not a fire

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is warning people to take extra care if they’re planning on lighting candles in their homes this winter.

As the nights draw in many people across the County light candles to create a romantic mood or a warm and cosy atmosphere but if you’re planning on using candles in your home it’s important that you take the proper precautions to stay safe.

Last year nearly 1,000 house fires nationwide were started by candles, these fires injured 385 people and resulted in 11 deaths.

Divisional Officer Neil Fenwick, Community Safety, said: “At this time of year it’s not unusual to see candles lit in homes. It could be part of a romantic dinner, to create a warm and cosy atmosphere on a cold evening or to even spread a pleasant aroma around the house.

“What people often forget is that they are not just another piece of furniture. They create a very real risk of fire and it’s important to be careful if you’re using candles in your home.

“Place your lit candles with extra care. Keep them away from curtains and out of the reach of pets and children and always remember to put them out when you leave the room, even if you’re just stepping out 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 tea-lights).
- 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 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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