Strike a Light But Not a FireBy Squiggy the Squirrel
One of my favorite things to do in the winter is to cuddle up with a good book on the couch, enjoy a cup of hazelnut hot chocolate, and light my favorite cinnamon-scented candle. Something I always keep in mind though is that candles are fire, and that means I have to take certain safety steps.
Whether you're celebrating Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, or another holiday this month, you'll probably use a candle at some point. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, December is the peak month for fires caused by candles. During this month, 13% of home candle fires start with decorations compared to 4% the rest of the year. Therefore, from your favorite squirrel, here are some tips to make sure your holidays are bright but also safe:
Keep candles a safe distance (about 12 inches) from anything that can burn. This includes paper, plastic, towels, blankets, curtains, clothing, etc. It's also best to keep candles out of bedrooms or any place where you might accidentally fall asleep while they're lit.
Do not leave a burning candle unattended. If you're leaving a room, extinguish all candles. This also applies to when you're going to sleep. About half of all home candle fire deaths occur between midnight and 6am.
Watch out for children and pets. Small children and pets can easily knock over a candle by accident, so it's best to avoid lighting candles when they're in the room.
Use a candleholder. If you do use candles, make sure they're in a sturdy metal, glass, or ceramic holder like the ones in the picture above.
Don't use them as tree decorations. If you have a Christmas tree, don't use lit candles as decorations. It's very dangerous.
During an emergency, use a flashlight. If there's a power failure, it's much safer to use a flashlight or other battery-powered light rather than a lit candle.
Avoid when medical oxygen is present. Never use a candle in a situation where medical oxygen is in use. This combination could lead to a very large fire.
Share the knowledge! Many people use candles during the holidays, so while you're spreading cheer, also share these safety tips. If you want to learn more, you can check out more candle safety tips from the U.S. Fire Administration as well as these holiday fire safety tips from the Red Cross.