United States Government Safety Officials have stated that the number of people killed
by house fires that were started by candles has increased over the past two decades.
The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission released a report stating that
the deaths from residential fires fell from 4,500 in 1980 to 2,660 in 1998. The safety commission also stated that candle-related fire
deaths increased from 20 to 170. It has been found that in most cases, unattended candles caused those fatal fires. Commision Chairwoman Ann Brown has stated that "Candles are no longer used for the occasional dinner party. In fact, only a small percent of candle fires start in dining rooms,'' "Candle sales are booming and families are lighting candles in their living rooms, family rooms, dens and bathrooms.''
The National Candle Association spokesman J.C. Edward, has stated that candles are as
safe as they have always been, but candle use has increased nearly fivefold in the last 10 years. He said candle retailers will sell an estimated $2.3 billion in candles this year. The agency's report found that the number of house fires dropped from 655,000 in 1980 to 332,300 in 1998, while house fires caused by candles increased from 8,500 to 12,900.
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It has been found that children playing with or near candles is a frequent cause of candle fires and about half of the candle fires start in bedrooms with mattresses or other bedding materials which are the most likely items to go up in flames.
In 1998, the last year for which figures were available, candle fires accounted for 6 percent of fire deaths. Cigarettes started 30 percent of fatal fires. This does not include fires that are suspected of being caused by arson.
In order to reduce the chance of home fires, particularly those involving candles, the United States Government advises consumers to:
1. Keep matches, lighters and candles away from children.
2. Never leave burning candles unattended.
3. Keep combustible materials away from candles.
4. Don't put candles in a location where children or pets could knock them down.
5. Use only nonflammable candle holders and always trim the wicks before lighting.