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How to use candles safely.

Candles are one of the common causes of home fires. Can you use them safely at home? Get our firefighters' guidance...

Over 200 fires at home involved candles last year...

Though they create a gorgeous warm glow, candles need handling with care. In 2018, 220 fires in London were connected to candle use.

That's why we recommend you swap your wax candles for 'flameless' candles.

Benefits of flameless candles

Sometimes called LED, battery-operated, or electric candles - flameless candles have a number of advantages:

  • You can leave them unattended
  • You don't have to worry about pets or children knocking them over
  • If you doze off while a flameless candle is on, it's not a problem
  • You can use them outdoors
  • You can buy flickering, rechargeable, coloured and waterproof versions

But if you want to continue to use wax candles, take a look at how you can use them more safely...

How to use candles and incense safely 

  1. Make sure you put out any candles, incense and oil burners when you leave the room and especially before bed.
  2. These items should always be held firmly in heat-resistant holders and placed on a stable surface where they won’t be knocked over.
  3. Keep them away from materials that might catch fire – that's things like curtains, furniture, clothes and hair. 
  4. Be especially careful if you have a lot of flammable items in your home, like collections of books, magazines or papers. 
  5. Be aware that tea lights get very hot and without proper holders can melt through plastic surfaces like a TV or bath.
  6. To avoid accidents keep candles and other naked flames out of reach of children and pets.

Take extra care when you're celebrating 

Diwali, Bonfire Night, Halloween and Christmas can see us light candles, dress up, and display lots of decorations – increasing the risk of fire.  Make sure all your decorations are kept away from naked flames

If you're celebrating with fancy dress, always check that costumes are fire retardant in accordance to European standard EN71-2. Unfortunately, costumes don't have to be made to the same safety standards as regular clothes, which means they are a greater fire risk.

What to do if clothes catch fire?

If there's an accident with a candle and your clothes catch fire, don’t run. Try and remember ‘stop, drop, roll' – which means: 

  1. Stop – don’t run, you’ll make the flames worse
  2. Drop – lie down on the ground at once
  3. Roll – in heavy fabric or a fire blanket to smother the flames, though just on the ground will help

Worried about candles and fire safety?

We can visit you at home to provide advice on fire safety – and will even fit free smoke alarms if you need them.

Book your free fire safety visit.

Useful downloads...

Fire safety in the home booklet

Download PDF (3,682kb)

Short fire safety leaflet

Download PDF (2,410kb)

It's also worth reading...