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State Fire Marshal Reminds Tennesseans to Use Candles with Care

Tuesday, February 20, 2018 | 09:10am

NASHVILLE – While candles are a popular piece of home décor, the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) wants to remind consumers that flamed candles must be used properly to avoid loss of life, injury, and significant property damage.

Though candles might make homes feel festive, they can also cause tragedy. In 2017, Tennessee fire departments responded to 77 home structure fires that were started by candles. These fires caused two civilian fatalities, two civilian injuries, one firefighter injury and $2,447,363 in direct property damage.

“We remind consumers to always take care when using candles,” said State Fire Marshal and Commerce & Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. “When left unattended or placed too close to something that can burn, candles can cause devastating fires. Fortunately, consumers can prevent candle-related fires with just a few cautionary steps.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), on average, 24 home candle fires are reported every day in the United States. More than one-third (37 percent) of home candle fires begin in the bedroom. Three of every five (59 percent) candle fires start when something that could burn, such as furniture, mattresses or bedding, curtains, or decorations, is placed too close to the candle.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office offers the following tips to keep Tennesseans safe from candle fires:

  • Consider using battery-operated flameless candles, which can look, smell, and feel like real candles.
  • When using candles, place them in sturdy, safe candleholders that will not burn or tip over.
  • Protect candle flames with glass chimneys/containers.
  • Keep candles at least 12 inches from anything that can burn.                                                                                                            
  • Never leave a burning candle unattended. Extinguish candles when you leave a room or the home or go to bed.
  • Avoid using candles in bedrooms and sleeping areas.
  • Keep children and pets away from burning candles. Never leave a child unattended in a room with a candle.                          
  • Never use a candle where medical oxygen is being used. The two can combine to create a large, unexpected fire. Medical oxygen can cause materials to ignite more easily and burn at a faster rate than normal. It can make an existing fire burn faster and hotter.
  • Always use a flashlight—not a candle—for emergency lighting.
  • Use only battery-powered lights in tents, trailers, motor homes, and boats.
  • Lit candles should not be placed in windows, where blinds and curtains can close over them, causing a fire.

For more home fire safety information or to download a free copy of the 2018 Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office calendar, visit