CANDLES AND MATCHES ARE A DANGEROUS CHOICE FOR EMERGENCY LIGHTING
Candles are often among the first choices for emergency lighting. They are easily attainable, have no expiration, and are easy to use.
However, candles are also dangerous due to the open flame. The U. S. Fire and Safety Administration and The Red Cross report that, “one (1) in three (3) fatal home fires are a direct result of candles being used for light in the absence of power.”
Burning a candle doesn’t require a lot of skill, but even when they’re used properly, candles of all shapes and sizes can easily spark a fire. Any time you have an open flame, you have an opportunity for the fire to spread and lose control. Candles are particularly dangerous for children, pets and the elderly.
CANDLE SAFETY RULES
The National Candle Association has published a complete list of candle safety rules:
- Always keep a burning candle within sight.
- Extinguish all candles when leaving a room or before going to sleep. Be sure the wick ember is no longer glowing.
- Never burn a candle on or near anything that can catch fire.
- Keep burning candles away from furniture, drapes, bedding, carpets, books, paper, flammable decorations, etc.
- Keep burning candles out of the reach of children and pets.
- Trim candlewicks to ¼ inch each time before burning. Long or crooked wicks can cause uneven burning and dripping.
- Always use a candle holder specifically designed for candle use. The holder should be heat resistant, sturdy, and large enough to contain any drips or melted wax.
- Be sure the candle holder is placed on a stable, heat-resistant surface. This can help prevent heat damage to underlying surfaces and prevent glass containers from breaking.
- Keep the wax pool free of wick trimmings, matches and debris at all times.
- Always read and follow the manufacturer’s use and safety instructions carefully. Don’t burn a candle longer than the manufacturer recommends.
- Keep burning candles away from drafts, vents, ceiling fans and air currents. This will help prevent rapid, uneven burning, and avoid flame flare-ups and sooting. Drafts can also blow nearby lightweight items into the flame where they could catch fire.
- Always burn candles in a well-ventilated room. Don’t burn too many candles in a small room or in a “tight” home where air exchange is limited.
- Don’t burn a candle all the way down. Extinguish the flame if it comes too close to the holder or container. For a margin of safety, discontinue burning a candle when 2 inches of wax remains or ½ inch if in a container.
- Never touch or move a burning candle or container candle when the wax is liquid.
- Never use a knife or sharp object to remove wax drippings from a glass holder. It might scratch, weaken, or cause the glass to break upon subsequent use.
- Place burning candles at least three inches apart. This helps ensure they don’t melt one another, or create their own drafts to cause improper burning.
- Use a snuffer to extinguish a candle. It’s the safest way to prevent hot wax splatters.
- Never extinguish candles with water. The water can cause the hot wax to splatter and might cause a glass container to break.
- Be very careful if using candles during a power outage. Flashlights and other battery-powered lights are safer sources of light during a power failure. Extinguish a candle if it repeatedly smokes, flickers, or the flame becomes too high.
- If the candle isn’t burning properly, cool, trim the wick, then check for drafts before relighting.
- Never use a candle as a night light.
Candles come in an endless variety of sizes and shapes, from tapers, votives, pillars and tealights to container/jar candles, floating candles, liturgical candles, outdoor candles, novelty candles, utility candles and birthday candles. If candles are part of your power outage preparations, make sure that for every type of candle you also have the proper non-flammable holder for it. Use candles with a firm base. For taper candles, get some sturdy candlestick holders that won’t easily tip over, and put them on a flat, non-flammable surface. For pillar candles, make sure they are always set on a non-flammable surface. The same goes for votive candles, tea lights, and any other homemade candles.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN IT COMES TO CANDLE SAFETY
When shopping, beware of purchasing a candle with no safety label. Reputable candle manufacturers follow industry labeling standards, and the lack of a label may mean that other important fire safety design guidelines are not being met. Always buy quality candles. The National Candle Association has played a leading role in the development of industry standards outlined by the ASTM F2058 Standard Specification for Candle Fire Safety Labeling. Under these standards, every candle should have a cautionary label or tag listing three key rules for candle safety. The following warnings should be included on your candle’s label:
- Burn within sight: A reminder to keep an eye on all burning candles, and extinguish a candle before leaving a room.
- Keep away from combustibles: A cue to pay attention to your surroundings. Keep burning candles away from furniture, drapes, bedding, carpets, books, paper and other flammable objects.
- Keep away from children: Make sure your candles are placed up high and unreachable to children and pets.
With candles, you always have a need for matches. There are safety rules that adults should be aware of concerning matches and lighters as well. According to Grand Traverse Metro Emergency Services Authority:
- Buy match books that have a striking surface on the back cover.
- Close the cover of the match book or box before striking the match.
- Strike a match away from the direction of the body.
- When striking a match, hold it an arm’s length away.
- Don’t use matches or lighters when distracted.
- Matches and lighters are very dangerous around flammable liquids such as gasoline.
- A waste basket is not an ash tray.
- Throw a match away only after the flame is extinguished and the tip is cool to the touch.
- Check your lighter regularly for cracks, leaks and other defects.
- If lighter fluid is spilled on or near the lighter, it should be cleaned off completely before igniting the flame.
- Persons with restricted mobility or slowed reflexes and elderly persons must use extra caution with lighters and matches.
WHAT ABOUT CANDLES WHEN MY LIGHTS GO OUT?
You might be thinking candles make the best lighting option in the event of a power outage. Wrong!
Consider using power outage light bulbs instead of dangerous candles. When the electricity goes out, the bulb automatically switches to power provided by an internal, rechargeable backup battery. Safelumin will automatically handle short term power outages of up to three (3) hours with the flip of your regular switch. When power is restored, the self-contained battery automatically recharges so it’s ready for the next outage. They even have a test button to assure you that the battery is charged and ready to go.
Safelumin is a high quality, great value, easy-to-use product for the unpredictable blackout event. Power outage light bulbs can be easily installed in lamps and fixtures and used normally as an efficient, every day LED light source.
If the outage was not weather-related, power may be down for only a few minutes. Using your Safelumin lights eliminate all risk of fire due to matches and candles.
If you must use candles, avoid carrying them around, leaving them near windows and linens of any sort, or using them to inspect confined spaces like closets and attics. Above all, extinguish candles before bed. And always have plenty of working smoke detectors. It is critically important it is that homes have smoke detectors on every floor, and outside all sleeping areas.