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Candle Safety

Statistics show that candle fires are one of the few types of home fires that have increased dramatically over the past decade, and four out of ten home candle fires start in bedrooms. Candle fires are most common in December, perhaps because candles are frequently a part of holiday decorating and rituals.  Note that the leading area of origin for dormitory property structure fires is the kitchen (39%).  Another 22% started in the bedroom; 9% began in a hallway or corridor. 

Students who live in Residence Life Housing agree to following the terms and conditions in the Residence Life Housing Agreement .  Burning candles are a prohibited item in residence halls.  Candles with wicks, both new or previously burned, are also prohibited because they present a potential for burning and therefore are considered the same as a burning candle.   If you want to keep wax candles in your room, then you must remove the wick.  Even better, consider purchasing flameless candles that provide the look and feel of wax candles but without the fire hazard posed by the open flame. The EH&S Office staff has a limited number of flameless votive candles that they will loan to campus-sponsored organizations for special events.  For more info, view the Flameless Candles (pdf) brochure or call 221-2146.

The following is a list of candle safety tips for students, faculty, and staff who may burn candles in their off-campus residences and/or homes.

Candle Safety Tips for Off-Campus Use:

1.  Extinguish all candles when leaving the room or going to sleep.

2.  Keep candles away from items that can catch fire, like clothing, books and curtains.

3.  Use candle holders that are sturdy, won't tip over easily, are made from a material that cannot burn, and are large enough to collect dripping wax. Be sure the candle holder is placed on a stable, heat-resistant surface.

4.  Keep candles and all open flames away from flammable liquids.

5.  Keep candles out of the reach of children and pets. Do not place lighted candles where they can be knocked over by children, pets or anyone else.

6.  Read and carefully follow all manufacturer instructions. Do not burn a candle for longer than the manufacturer recommends.

7.  Always burn candles in a well-ventilated room.

8.  Keep candle wicks trimmed to one-quarter inch and extinguish taper and pillar candles when they get to within two inches of the holder. Votives and containers should be extinguished before the last half-inch of wax starts to melt.

9.  Keep the wax pool free of wick trimmings, matches and debris at all times.

10. Keep burning candles away from drafts, vents and air currents. This will help prevent rapid, uneven burning, smoking and excessive dripping. Drafts can also blow lightweight curtains or papers into the flame where they could catch fire. Ceiling fans can cause drafts.

11. Do not extinguish candles with water. The water can cause the hot wax to spatter and can cause glass containers to break.

12. One of the safest ways to extinguish a candle is to use a candle snuffer, which helps prevent hot wax from spattering.

13. Never use a candle as light when you go into a closet to look for things.

14. During power outages, avoid carrying a lit candle. Use flashlights.  

Candles may look nice, but they are a growing fire threat in our communities. Knowing about candles is a key to fire safety. Whether you use candles for celebration, atmosphere, or romantic dinners, remember, you're dealing with an open flame. Treat it with respect.