From 2009-2013, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 9,300 home structure fires that were started by candles. These fires caused 86 deaths, 827 injuries and $374 million in direct property damage.
Facts and figures
During the five-year period of 2009-2013:
- Candles caused 3% of reported home fires, 3% of home fire deaths, 6% of home fire injuries, and 5% of the direct property damage in home fires.
- Roughly one-third (36%) of home candle fires started in bedrooms. These fires caused 32% of the associated deaths and 47% of the associated injuries.
- Falling asleep was a factor in 11% percent of the home candle fires and 30% of the associated deaths.
- On average, 25 home candle fires were reported per day.
- More than half (58%) of home candle fires occurred when some form of combustible material was left or came too close to the candle.
- December is the peak time of year for home candle fires. In December, 11% of home candle fires began with decorations compared to 4% the rest of the year.
Source: NFPA "Home Candle Fires" report (December 2015)
Video: Remember that a candle is an open flame, which means that it can easily ignite anything that can burn. NFPA shares a few candle fire safety tips to consider.
Remember that a candle is an open flame, which means that it can easily ignite anything that can burn.
Religious candle safety
Blow out all candles when you leave the room or go to bed. Avoid the use of candles in the bedroom and other areas where people may fall asleep.
- Keep candles at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn.
- Think about using flame-less candles in your home. They look and smell like real candles.
- Use candle holders that are sturdy, and won’t tip over easily.
- Put candle holders on a sturdy, uncluttered surface.
- Light candles carefully. Keep your hair and any loose clothing away from the flame.
- Don’t burn a candle all the way down — put it out before it gets too close to the holder or container.
- Never use a candle if oxygen is used in the home.
- Have flashlights and battery-powered lighting ready to use during a power outage. Never use candles.
Lit candles are used in religious services, in places of worship, and in the home. Whether you are using one candle, or more than one on a candelabra, kinara, or menorah, make sure you use them safely.
- Candles should be placed in a sturdy candle holder.
- Handheld candles should not be passed from one person to another at any time.
- When lighting candles at a candle lighting service, have the person with the unlit candle dip their candle into the flame of the lit candle.
- Lit candles should not be placed in windows where a blind or curtain could catch fire.
- Candles placed on, or near tables, altars, or shrines, must be watched by an adult.
- Blow out candles when you leave the room or go to sleep.
- If a candle must burn continuously, be sure it is enclosed in a glass container and placed in a sink, on a metal tray, or in a deep basin filled with water.