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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 started candles last year...

Though they create a gorgeous warm glow, candles need handling with care. In 2017, 234 fires in London were connected to candle use. So how can you use them safely? Let's take a closer look... 

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.
  7. LED candles can be a great alternative – they're safe even if you fall asleep or forget to blow them out!

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 decorations are kept away from naked flames, and if you are 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. There's a short video below that explains the risks.

The fire risks of candles.

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. 

Struggling to pay your energy bill?

If you are finding bills hard to pay, please don't use candles as an alternative heat source – and never ever use BBQs indoors or on balconies to cook or keep warm. There is help available if energy costs are getting beyond your budget – Citizens Advice provides lots of info about grants and benefits to help you pay your energy bills or you can contact your energy company for advice.

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 (170kb)

It's also worth reading...