Candle Fire Safety: Snuff out the fire risk

Cleveland Fire Brigade is urging residents to be extra vigilant if using candles over the winter months and also for those who celebrate the Hindu festival of Diwali.

Diwali, also known as the ‘festival of lights’ takes place on Thursday, 19 October and is celebrated by Hindus, Jains and Sikhs. This religious festival involves lighting symbolic candles which can pose a fire risk, as do candles which add to the eeriness of Halloween when plastic capes and costumes can easily catch fire.

This week is Candle Fire Safety Week (16-22 October) and fire and rescue services across the country are asking people to take care and snuff out the risk of fire in their homes.

With winter fast approaching, a few candles scattered round the room can lend a warm glow to an evening in or add some festive cheer to the season’s celebrations such as Guy Fawkes’ night and Christmas.

But with candle fires resulting in over 300 casualties each year, Cleveland Fire Brigade is asking people to take extra care with candles this winter – more than one in three of all reported accidental fires in the home started by candles result in a death or injury.

Phil Lancaster, Director of Community Safety said: “Candles are a typical sight in many homes, scenting our rooms and giving an atmospheric glow to cold winter nights. But it’s important to remember that a candle is not just a decorative feature. Left unattended, an open flame scenting your home could leave a trail of devastation.

“So far this financial year there have been six fires caused by candles across Teesside. If we compare this to 2016/17 where we had 10, it means if the trend continues we could have more fires than in the previous four years which is the reason for us reminding people what precautions they can take.

“With the nights now drawing in and Diwali being celebrated this week, it is a popular time to start lighting candles in the home, however please take precautions. 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.”

“Even with these precautions it’s vital to be prepared should the worst happen. Working smoke alarms can give you the vital time you need to get out, stay out and call 999. Keep yourself and your loved ones safe by testing your alarm regularly and by practising your escape routes.”

To help you enjoy your candles safely, the Fire Kills campaign has offered some tips for this Candle Fire Safety Week:

● Never leave lit candles unattended. Put burning candles out when you leave the room, and make sure they’re out completely at night.
● Place your candles carefully. Make sure they are on a stable surface, out of the reach of pets and children, and keep them away from flammable objects like curtains, furniture, bedding and books.
● Don’t move candles once they are lit
• Do not burn several candles close together as this might cause the flame to flare
• Burn candles in a well-ventilated room, out of drafts, vents or air currents. This will help prevent rapid or uneven burning, soot, and dripping.
● Always put scented candles in a heat resistant holder. These candles are designed to liquefy when heated to maximise fragrance.
● Fit smoke alarms and test them now and weekly. A working smoke alarm can buy you valuable time to get out, stay out and call 999.
● Make sure that everyone in your home knows what to do if a fire should occur– practise your escape route.

For those celebrating Diwali:

• Treat the Diva (candle) as you would any other flame:
o Use only enough ghee (clarified butter) to last your Puja (worship).
o Place it in a suitable fire resistant candleholder and do not leave it unattended
o Keep the flame a safe distance from curtains, furniture or decorations at all times. Remember long hair and clothing is also very flammable.
o Ensure candles are out when finished.