When entertaining for the holidays, it seems natural to light a few candles on the dinner table before guests arrive or to burn candles grouped within an Advent wreath. Lighting candles adds sparkle to holiday displays and helps ward off the dark and cold of winter evenings.
However, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) warns that because lit candles provide an open flame, any flammable object close by could be ignited. Their statistics are alarming: Each year from 2012 through 2016, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 8,200 home fires started by candles. These fires caused an average of 80 deaths and 770 injuries. The top three days for home candle fires are: Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Day.
Tips from NFPA on handling candles
If you light candles this holiday season:
- Place candles in a sturdy holder that won’t tip over easily and on a solid, uncluttered surface away (at least 12 inches) from anything that might catch fire.
- Light candles carefully, keeping clothing and hair away from the flame.
- Don’t burn candles down to the holder; extinguish before then.
- Extinguish the candles before you leave the room and always before falling asleep.
- Keep kids away from lit candles, and also keep matches and other lighters out of children’s reach.
- Consider using “flameless” candles rather than the real thing to avoid dangers.