Candles, Kids, and Fire Safety

The Beauty of Candles Can Turn Deadly

The decorative candles that many of us use to create warm, homey or elegant lighting have also become a growing fire threat in the United States.

Seven out of 10 U.S. households now use candles, and fires caused by candles have tripled over the last decade, the NFPA reports. About 18,000 house fires started by candles were reported to fire departments in 2001 alone, an all-time high. Those fires killed 190 people, injured 1,450 and caused $265 million in property damage.

"It has absolutely peaked our concern," says Judy Comoletti, the NFPA's assistant vice president of public education. "We know more and more people are using candles in the home. I think it's all a matter of the placement of the candle. When using candles in the home, you have to be vigilant."

The NFPA offers these safety tips:

  • Never leave a burning candle unattended. "This is an open flame. A candle needs someone in the room with it at all times," Comoletti says.

  • Place a burning candle at least one foot from anything that can burn, such as books or curtains that could be blowing in the wind.

  • Don't put a candle on a low table, since it could easily be knocked over. A dog could topple a burning candle with a wagging tail, or the candle may be within a child's reach.

  • Don't burn candles in bedrooms; 41 percent of candle fires begin in the bedroom, the NFPA reports.

For more information on fire safety tips, visit the NFPA's Web site at