Don’t let a 50 cent candle cost $50,000 in damages

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kristopher Levasseur
  • 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Candles perform many functions such as setting the mood for a fancy meal, enhancing the smell and lighting the environment of a home or office, but if not taken seriously, they can have devastating consequences.

More than 15,000 residential fires are caused each year in the U.S. by the careless or inappropriate use of candles, which could have been avoided by following the proper safety guidelines.

Improper use of candles can cause fire, damage to personal property and personal injury.

"I personally enjoy candles, when they are used properly," said Staff Sgt. Scott Richard, 48th Fighter Wing ground safety craftsmen. "Often people think that they can light them and walk away and not worry about it. It is a fire source and can possibly be fatal. If people want them in their house, great, but please be aware of the potential dangers."

The following list of tips was provided by the 48th FW safety office: 

1. Always put candles on a heat resistant surface. Be especially careful with night lights and tea lights, which get hot enough to melt plastic. 

2. Put candles in a proper holder. Candles need to be held firmly upright by the holder so they won't fall over. The holder needs to be stable too, so it won't fall over. 

3. Position them away from curtains. Don't put candles near curtains, other fabrics or furniture. 

4. Make sure there's at least three feet between a candle and any surface above it. It's easy to forget that there's a lot of heat above a burning candle. If you put it under a shelf or other surface, it can burn the surface. 

5. Keep clothes and hair away. If there's any chance you could lean across a candle and forget it's there, put it somewhere else. 

6. Keep children and pets away. 

7. Take care with votive or scented candles. These kinds of candles turn to liquid to release their fragrance, so put them in a glass or metal holder. 

8. Don't move candles when they're burning. 

9. Don't let anything fall into the hot wax.

The Liberty Wing also has its own guidelines on the usage of candles in government housing.

"The use of candles is prohibited in the dorms and the workplace," said Staff Sgt. Jonathan Sullivan, 48th Civil Engineer Squadron fire inspector. "We don't control the use of candles in housing, but people need to keep them in a well ventilated area away from combustible substances such as curtains and other types of cloth."

According to Sergeant Sullivan, the majority of candle related incidents are from people leaving candles unattended.

"Fire safety is paramount at home or in the workplace," said Sergeant Sullivan. "It can save your property, it can save your life."