SPRINGFIELD – December is the peak time of year for home candle fires, the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal (OSFM) warned today.
“More home candle fires occur at this time of the year because candles often are part of holiday decorating and traditions,” said Dave DeFraties, Acting State Fire Marshal. “Understanding the circumstances surrounding home candle fires can help in their prevention.”
According to the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS), there have been 141 candle fires in Illinois so far in 2009, accounting for more than $2.6 million in property damage.
Here are some sobering facts and common situations concerning these types of fires:
• In December, 13 percent of home candle fires began with decorations compared to about 4 percent the rest of the year.
• The top four days for these types of fires are Christmas, Christmas Eve, New Year’s Day and New Year’s Eve.
• Four in 10 candle fires start in the bedroom, and one in six start in common rooms, living rooms, family rooms or dens.
• Eleven percent of the home candle fires start after someone falls asleep.
• On average, nearly half the people killed by candle fires in the home are younger than 20; children ages 5 to 9 accounted for a disproportionate share of the victims.
“Practice common sense when using candles in your home,” DeFraties added. “Don’t leave candles unattended and set a timer in periodic intervals as a reminder about burning candles.”
OSFM also offers these tips for safe candle use:
• Use flameless candles
• Extinguish all candles when leaving the room or going to sleep.
• Don't allow children or teens to have candles in their bedrooms.
• Keep candles at least one foot away from things that can catch fire, such as clothing, books, paper, curtains, Christmas trees, or decorations.
• Place candles on stable furniture in sturdy holders that won't tip over and that are big enough to collect dripping wax.
• Don't place lit candles in windows, where they may ignite blinds or curtains.
• Place candles only in areas where they won't be knocked over by children or pets.
• Extinguish taper and pillar candles when they get within two inches of the holder or decorative material. Extinguish votive and filled candles before the last half-inch of wax starts to melt.
• Avoid candles with embedded combustible materials (i.e. leaves, flowers, etc.), or with holders or decorations that could ignite.
For more information, please visit the agency’s Web site at www.state.il.us/osfm or NFPA at http://www.nfpa.org/.