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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Holiday Safety - Candles

The fire service has seen an increase in home fires over the past dozen years with the popularity and increased use of candles.  During the Holiday Season candles play an important role in religious celebrations and home use is at an all time high.  Several University of Maryland students were displaced from their off-campus apartment earlier this month after an unattended religious candle display ignited a larger fire.  December is the peak time of year for home candle fires.  In December, across the country, 13% of home candle fires begin with decorations compared to 4% the rest of the year.

The Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department is providing safety tips from the United States Fire Administration to help keep Safety Fires to ensure everyone goes home.

Causes and Circumstances of Home Candle Fires

  • On average, 42 home candle fires are reported every day.
  • More than half of all candle fires start when something that could burn, such as furniture, mattresses or bedding, curtains, or decorations is too close to the candle.
  • In one-fifth (20%) of candle fires, the candles are unattended or abandoned.
  • Over one-third (36%) of home candle fires begin in the bedroom.
  • Falling asleep is a factor in 12% of home candle fires and 36% of the associated deaths.
  • December is the peak time of year for home candle fires.  In December, 13% of home candle fires begin with decorations compared to 4% the rest of the year.
  • One-half of home candle fire deaths occur between Midnight and 6 am.
  • Young children and older adults have the highest death risk from candle fires.
  • The risk of fatal candle fires appears higher when candles are used for light.
Sources: NFIRS, NFPA

Candle Safety Tips

Put candles in sturdy metal, glass, or ceramic holders.
Put candles in sturdy metal, glass or ceramic holders.
  • Consider using battery-operated flameless candles, which can look, smell and fell like real candles
  • If you do use candles, ensure they are in sturdy metal, glass or ceramic holders and placed where they cannot be easily knocked down.
  • Avoid using candles in bedrooms and sleeping areas.
  • Extinguish candles after use and before going to bed.
  • Keep candles at least 12 inches from anything that can burn.
  • Keep candles out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Set a good example by using matches, lighters and fire carefully.
  • Children should never be allowed to play with matches, lighters or candles.
  • Never use a candle where medical oxygen is being used. The two can combine to create a large, unexpected fire.
  • Always use a flashlight – not a candle – for emergency lighting.
  • Never put candles on a Christmas tree.
  • When using in home worship, don't place lit candles in windows, where blinds and curtains can close over them, or pass handheld candles from one person to another. To lower the risk of fire, candles should be used by only a few designated adults.
  • And NEVER leave burning candles unattended!
Remember!  Candle fires are PREVENTABLE!
In the event of a fire, remember time is the biggest enemy and every second counts!
Escape first, and then call for help. Develop a home fire escape plan and practice it frequently with
your family.  Designate a meeting place outside. Make sure everyone in the family knows two ways to escape from every room.
Never stand up in a fire, always crawl low under the smoke, and try to keep your mouth covered. Never return to a burning building for any reason: it may cost you your life.
Finally, as in every season, have working smoke alarms installed on every level of your home, test them monthly and keep them clean and equipped with fresh batteries at all times. Know when and how to call for help. And remember to practice your home escape plan.  

The Prince George's County Safety First Program will provide County residents with a working smoke alarm and install it for you, free of charge.  Simply call our Safety First Smoke Alarm Program at 301-864-SAFE (7233).

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