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Candle Safety

John Beatty

Fire and Life Safety Educator III

Maine Fire Training & Education

Southern Maine Community College


The popularity of candles has increased rapidly in the past few years, as have the number of advertisements in newspapers, catalogues, and magazines for mood candles, scented candles, novelty candles, and the like. We see that this popularity has even spread to our grocery stores in Maine where up to 168 square feet of floor space is devoted to nothing but candles. We even have our own cottage industry in the state that is manufacturing candles that are being shipped all over the world. Unfortunately, because of the popularity of candles and people not using them properly the number of fires in our cities and towns has dramatically increased.


The fires that have occurred have not been limited to any one group of people, age group, or even one section of our cities or towns. Portland, Maine in one ten day period this year had six fires that were attributed to candles. These fires were caused by candles to close to drapes in a bedroom, a candle placed on computer paper in a bedroom, to a candle in a bathroom that caught towels and toilet paper on fire. Two other fires occurred when candles that people thought they had put out weren’t. These candles burned down to below one inch causing the glass to crack and ignited the material underneath. These fires caused thousands of dollars in damages, the good news is no body was hurt because the smoke detectors in these homes were working!


These fires could have been prevented, if the person when they lit them had just look on the bottom of the candle and read the instructions on candle safety, or used a method called

Six Point Candle Circle of Safety”.


You might ask what is this six point system is. It is as follows

1.    Burn candles inside a one-foot circle of safety, free of anything that could burn.

2.    Extinguish candles after use, wait a minute to be sure they are out.

3.    Keep candles out of reach of children and pets.

4.    Keep all matches and lighters out of children’s reach. Remember that children think that the butane lighters that we use to light gas grills are a toy not a tool.

5.     Use a sturdy metal, glass, or ceramic candleholder.

6.    Never leave a burning candle unattended.


If we follow these few basic rules candles can provide a great joy to all that gaze upon them, but if we don’t tragedy is just around the corner.