While candles might look pleasant and harmless, they can be dangerous with open flames reaching more than 1,400 degrees Celsius.

Before you purchase candles for your home or as a gift for a loved one, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Candle fires are a leading cause of home fires and happen most often during the holiday season and typically inside the bedroom.

Common causes of candle fires are:

  • Leaving candles unattended
  • Falling asleep while a candle is lit
  • Placing candles too close to things that can easily burn
  • Candles are knocked over by children, pets or sudden drafts
  • The misuse of candles is one of the main causes of home fires, especially during the winter and holiday season

Table centrepiece with small led lights insideA safer alternative to live-flame candles

There are now battery operated flameless candles available at most retail stores. These safer alternatives use small L.E.D. (laminated electric diode) bulbs that do not generate any heat and flicker to provide a realistic flame effect. These flameless candles are also extremely efficient and last a long time on battery power.

Guidelines for candle use

  • Use sturdy candleholders that will not tip over and are made from non-flammable materials
  • Keep wax in the candleholder. Wax can act as a wick and carry a flame to an item that can burn
  • Candleholders should be placed on a sturdy, uncluttered surface. Keep them away from children and the edge of a surface.
  • Keep hair and loose clothing away from a burning candle
  • Keep candlewicks trimmed. Keep wicks one-quarter inch from the top of the candle
  • Put out candles when they down to about two inches of their holder or any decorative material. Do not use this candle again
  • Put out candles carefully. Never leave the room until the wick has stopped glowing. Never leave a burning candle unattended
  • Do not use candles in bedrooms or sleeping areas
  • Keep candles at least one foot from anything that can burn including bedding, curtains, blinds, wallpaper, upholstered furniture, clothing, newspapers, etc.

Candle safety during power outages

Avoid using candles as emergency lighting. Always keep flashlights and/or battery-powered lamps and a stock of fresh batteries in a designated area.

Resources

National Fire Protection Association Tip Sheet – Candle Fire Safety

Fire Prevention Canada – Candle Facts