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Candle Safety Issues

posted Oct 14, 2009, 11:16 PM by CJ Cook   [ updated Mar 24, 2012, 5:56 PM ]

by Alice Marquardt

We have heard our share of news stories about fires blamed on candles over the holidays. I heard of two in Northwest Iowa, one caused by leaving a candle burning while away from home, and the other where a cat knocked the candle over. To me a cat is the most dangerous animal to have around a burning candle since they are fascinated by the flickering flame, and they can jump and get themselves most anyplace. If they catch their hair on fire, then run through the house to get away from it, they have spread fire throughout the house.

I also had a member tell me about going around a relative's house blowing out candles where they were a fire hazard. One was burning too close to flammable material and the others were tapers in unstable holders on a surface that had flammable material on it. He had hoped his family members would be more careful than that. When asked why he was blowing the candles out, he merely told them they were a catastrophe waiting to happen. Many times we don't feel we can go into others homes or spaces and do this sort of thing, in fact I was in a store the other evening where they had a container candle burning with a soot stopper on top. The flame was extending through the center opening and smoking. I wanted to say something but didn't. I thought later, I had probably passed up an opportunity to educate someone about burning candles. If we look at such situations as  opportunities to teach someone about candle safety, we would be helping the industry rather than hurting someone's feelings, and possibly save them from a disaster.

A candle will never be completely safe because with the open flame there is always a potential hazard. We can work through our testing to come up with the best burning candle type we make. But we must also be very cautious of the materials we put into the candle that might come near the flame. As I watch TV craft shows and read craft magazines and books, I am amazed at how many of the candle projects they use, have flammable materials in or near them. We can try also by using votives, as they should always be used in a votive glass and that would make them safer to burn provided a votive glass is used! "

Tea lights are used a lot because they do not burn as long so the danger is less and they are usually burned inside a glass or container of some sort. The small oil lamp inserts used by many in their candles do have a way of running out of fuel to reduce the fire possibilities, but they still have an open flame.

This is a good time of the year to get your testing procedures set up since most of us are not quite so busy with shows and sales. Be sure to make notes about questions and concerns you have, and join us at the Convention 2003 so you may bring them up with the committee working on these issues.

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