By S.E. Slack
December is known for more than Christmas to firefighters. It’s the peak time of year for home candle fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association. If you like using them, be sure to follow these tips to keep your home – and family members – safe from harm.
More than 15,000 candle fires start each year and nearly 170 people die annually as a result. Roughly one-third of candle fires start in the bedroom, so it’s a good idea to insist that all candles be used in main rooms only.
And, since more than half of all candle fires start when flammable items come into close contact, it’s also a good idea to keep candles on sturdy, uncluttered surfaces at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn.
The U.S. Fire Administration states that the risk of fatal candle fires appears higher when candles are used for light. Keep flashlights and battery-powered lighting available instead, especially if your home is prone to power outages.
Never use a candle near flammable materials. One woman in the Emerald City recently used a candle inside her car, sparking a fire that gave her second-degree burns, destroyed her car and caused extensive damage to her home to the tune of $400,000. Candles are also the suspected cause in the northwestern Ohio city of Tiffin fatal fire that killed five children and one adult.
The NFPA states that just one-third of all Americans have both developed and practiced a home fire escape plan. Three-quarters of the population have a plan but have never practiced it.
The time to escape a home fire is often under six minutes. The average person’s ability to get out safely depends upon warning from smoke alarms and advance knowledge of at least two ways out of the home. Advance planning can make the difference between life and death.