According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) Home Candle Fire report, 37% of fires from candles start in the bedroom.
The fires happen when people fall asleep while burning a candle, or because they keep the flame too close to bedding, decorations, or curtains.
Every week we help to successfully restore homes and businesses in the Chicago area after fire damage. With our extensive background training and knowledge, we assembled this guide on how to put out a candle fire.
We aim to help minimize any possible damage or loss you may face from an accidental fire in the home.
Let’s get started.
Homeowners may not think that small, decorative candles can cause extreme house fires, but they certainly can.
Based on statistics between 2015 and 2019, there were 20 candle fires reported every day, on average.
Candle fires, on average, unfortunately cause deaths in 40% of the cases. Even less severe fires can cause injuries, with 49% of reported fires injuring residents.
Since candles get so hot and the wax can easily spread if you don’t contain it, these fires can also cause severe property damage.
With such astounding statistics, knowing how these fires start and what to do if it happens is vital in saving lives and minimizing fire damage.
Situations that can lead to candle fires include:
- Leaving a candle burning unattended
- Flammable items located too close to the candle
- Improper use
- Individuals sleeping and not monitoring the candle
- Intoxicated individuals that do not monitor the candle
Generally, house fires caused by candles tend to happen from midnight to 6:00 am. This timeframe is when individuals fall asleep and do not monitor a burning candle. It’s incredibly important to extinguish all lit candles before going to bed.
There is also a higher frequency of house fires from candles during the seasonal months around Christmas.
Festive decorations, busy schedules, and frequent visitors can all play a part in the lack of proper etiquette when using candles during this time.
In the unfortunate event that you’re experiencing a candle fire, here is what you should do.
You might think that water can put out a candle fire, but it can cause more damage. Water can cause the hot wax to splash. If the candle is in a glass container, water can make the glass break, spilling wax everywhere.
Though candle flames are small, they can grow out of control quickly, much like a grease fire.
These four steps can help you keep your candle fire contained.
Fires require three components to continue burning: heat, fuel, and oxygen. If you remove one element, the fire can’t thrive, so it will go out. Often, the most straightforward factor of the three to remove is oxygen.
For small to medium house fire situations, you can do this by covering the flames. Restricting the oxygen to the flame will help extinguish the fire and keep it from spreading further.
You can use a metal pot lid, a cookie sheet, or a fire blanket to cover the fire until it goes out completely.
You should never use a glass or ceramic lid when covering a fire. These materials can shatter when they’re exposed to extreme temperatures, such as the open flames of a candle fire. Besides not cutting off the oxygen, the glass can hurt you and cause the fire to escalate into an emergency.
If you are unable to cover the fire or are not successful in doing so, use a chemical fire extinguisher for small to medium house fires.
There are several types of fire extinguishers to choose from, so you need to know which one will put out a candle fire.
Only use a Class K or Class B fire extinguisher, as they use specially-formulated chemicals to put out flames.
A Class A extinguisher is water-based and will not produce effective results on a house fire caused by a candle. Using this type of product can worsen the fire.
Class K and Class B fire extinguishers put out grease fires and work well for larger flames.
Remember to point it at the base of the fire during use.
For small candle fires, throw baking soda or salt onto the flame. You probably have these items readily available and easily accessible.
When heated, baking soda creates a chemical reaction that produces carbon dioxide. This gas helps starve the candle of the necessary oxygen required to continue burning.
Alternatively, salt aids in creating a barrier between the flames and oxygen. This way, it smothers the flame since it cannot receive the oxygen necessary for burning.
If you have tried the previous three tips to put out the candle fire and nothing is working, get everyone out of the house and call 911 for help.
Far too often, homeowners suffer burns and other injuries from trying to fight a fire on their own.
If you feel scared or are unable to contain the fire on your own, ensure that everyone is safely out of the home and close the doors behind you as you exit.
This way, you can help contain the fire until the emergency crews arrive.
Then, find a safe place to call the fire department, whether it is at a neighbor’s or down the street using your cell phone.
You must remain there until it is safe to return to the area and your home. Never re-enter a home with a house fire unless directed by a professional fireman.
Facing emergencies, such as a candle fire, can make people nervous and not think clearly. Knowing what not to do during this situation can be as helpful as knowing what you should do.
Often, the first thing that comes to mind when you want to extinguish a fire is to use water. But, unfortunately, that is one of the worst things you can do for house fires that start with a candle.
Candle wax reacts negatively with water, which can cause an explosion, resulting in a house fire. A chemical reaction happens when water comes in contact with melted wax and has enough oxygen in the air.
Candle holders made of glass, metal, or other materials will be hot. Moving a lit candle that is burning out of control can increase the risks of dropping it and spreading the flames further.
Additionally, the heat can cause damage to the glass or metal container during movement, compromising the integrity and increasing the chances for a fire later.
27 Critical Candle Fire Safety Tips
You can prevent many candle fires with proper use and monitoring. Never leave a room with a burning candle. Even if it’s in a secure candle holder on a flat, uncluttered surface, accidents can still happen.
A pet might jump up near the candle, knocking it over or pushing a flammable item into the flame. Drafts from fans, vents, or open windows can blow a candle flame out of control.
To safely enjoy candles in your home, follow these tips. They’ll ensure you minimize the risk of starting a candle fire.
- Before lighting a new candle, trim the wick to ¼ inch. Longer wicks cause the candle to burn unevenly and may flare up when lit.
- Never leave a burning candle unattended.
- Do not use candles in the bedroom where you may fall asleep.
- Do not use candles in the bathroom near water.
- Do not light candles if you’ve had alcoholic drinks.
- Ensure there is nothing within 12 inches of a lit candle.
- Keep multiple candles at least 3 inches apart from each other.
- Use stable candle holders to prevent them from tipping over during use.
- Always extinguish candles when you leave the room. This cuts down on the possibility that something happens while you’re away and ensures you won’t forget to come and extinguish the flame later.
- If anyone in your home uses an oxygen tank, ensure lit candles are at least 5 feet away.
- Refrain from burning candles where there are drafts or vents nearby as they can cause the flame to spread.
- Consider using flameless candles as a safer alternative.
- Have a fire blanket ready in the home to cover the flames in the event of a fire.
- Keep your hair and clothing away from the flame.
- Use a long-reach lighter to light a candle for optimal safety.
- Always place candles on an uncluttered, heat-resistant surface.
- Always use appropriate glass or metal containers for candles.
- Place candles away from children and pets.
- Never touch or move a lit candle.
- Do not extinguish candles by dousing them with water or blowing them — use a candle snuffer. Water can spread the wax and blowing them out can distribute sparks.
- Do not use candles during a power outage — have flashlights and other battery-powered options on hand for safety.
- Keep the wick trimmed to avoid any carbon build-up.
- Keep the wax clear of wick trimmings, matches, or other debris that can cause a fire if the flame touches it.
- Put out candles before they burn all the way down to the container. Stop using a candle when there’s only ½ inch left in the container, or when a pillar candle is only 2 inches tall.
- Don’t burn a candle longer than 4 hours. Let it cool for at least two hours before relighting it.
- If the flame is flickering, extinguish the flame and let it cool. Trim the wick before relighting the candle. If flickering continues, check for drafts in the air and possibly move the candle to a new location.
- Never place candles on Christmas trees as this can lead to fires.
By following these careful usage tips, you minimize the chances of starting a candle fire.
For those unfavorable circumstances when you require professional restoration services after a fire, ServiceMaster of Lake Shore is here to help with all of your cleanup needs.
Fire, smoke, and water damage are typical results of house fires. Thankfully, you do not have to face them alone. The professionals here at ServiceMaster of Lake Shore can help get your home back to normal in no time.
Our trained team of professionals is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for all your fire restoration and cleanup needs. It’s our job to ensure your home is clean and free from any harmful results of a candle fire.
Give us a call today to request help with fire damage: (312) 707-8597