Candle fires are on the rise. While other causes for home fires have decreased, the percentage caused by candles has tripled in the past ten years.
How does a little flame become so dangerous?
More than 33 % of candle fires occurred when the candles were left unattended or abandoned. Roughly 25 % of the fires occurred because something combustible such as curtains or paper was too close to the flame. Half the people killed by candle fires in the home were younger than 20, with most of the victims between the ages of 5 and 9.
Candle Safety Check List:
If you burn candles for decorative or ritual purposes, make your home safer:
- Use candles with flame protective noncombustible shades or globes.
- Use a sturdy metal, glass or ceramic candle holder.
- Avoid the use of candles with embedded combustible decorative items.
- Place candles at least 4 feet away from curtains, draperies, decorations, blinds and bedding.
- Place candles out of reach of small children and pets.
- Refrain from using decorative/floral candle rings.
- Extinguish candles before leaving the room.
- Extinguish candles when they burn within two inches of the holder.
- Never leaving burning candles unattended.
- Do not place candles on any combustible surface.
- Candles should always be placed out of reach of children and don’t allow teens to have candles in their bedrooms.
Electrical fires in our homes claim the lives of 485 Americans each year and injure 2,305 more. Some of these fires are caused by electrical system failures and appliance defects, but many more are caused by the misuse and poor maintenance of electrical appliances, incorrectly installed wiring, and overloaded circuits and extension cords. Do not use extension cords with appliances such as space heaters or air conditioners.
The United States Fire Administration (USFA) would like consumers to know that there are simple steps you can take to prevent the loss of life and property resulting from electrical fires.
During a typical year, home electrical problems account for 67,800 fires, 485 deaths, and $868 million in property losses. Home electrical wiring causes twice as many fires as electrical appliances.
December is the most dangerous month for electrical fires. Fire deaths are highest in winter months which call for more indoor activities and increase in lighting, heating, and appliance use. Most electrical wiring fires start in the bedroom.
Most electrical fires result from problems with "fixed wiring" such as faulty electrical outlets and old wiring. Problems with cords and plugs, such as extension and appliance cords, also cause many home electrical fires. In urban areas, faulty wiring accounts for 33% of residential electrical fires.
Many avoidable electrical fires can be traced to misuse of electric cords, such as overloading circuits, poor maintenance and running the cords under rugs or in high traffic areas.
The home appliances most often involved in electrical fires are electric stoves and ovens, dryers, central heating units, televisions, radios and record players.
- Routinely check your electrical appliances and wiring.
- Frayed wires can cause fires. Replace all worn, old or damaged appliance cords immediately.
- Use electrical extension cords wisely and don't overload them.
- Keep electrical appliances away from wet floors and counters; pay special care to electrical appliances in the bathroom and kitchen.
- When buying electrical appliances look for products evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
- Don't allow children to play with or around electrical appliances like space heaters, irons and hair dryers.
- Keep clothes, curtains and other potentially combustible items at least three feet from all heaters.
- If an appliance has a three-prong plug, use it only in a three-slot outlet. Never force it to fit into a two-slot outlet or extension cord.
- Never overload extension cords or wall sockets. Immediately shut off, then professionally replace, light switches that are hot to the touch and lights that flicker. Use safety closures to "child-proof" electrical outlets.
- Check your electrical tools regularly for signs of wear. If the cords are frayed or cracked, replace them. Replace any tool if it causes even small electrical shocks, overheats, shorts out or gives off smoke or sparks.
Finally, having a working smoke alarm dramatically increases your chances of surviving a fire. And remember to practice a home escape plan frequently with your family.