Snuff out the fire risk in your homes this winter

Candle fire safetyCheshire Fire and Rescue Service is urging residents to snuff out the risk of fire in their homes this winter as part of a national campaign.

Driven by the National Fire Chief Council (NFCC), the Service is asking people to take extra care this Candle Fire Safety Week (14-20 October).

With winter fast approaching, a few candles scattered round the room can lend a warm glow to an evening in, or add some festive cheer to the season’s celebrations such as Hallowe’en, bonfire night and Christmas.

But with candle fires resulting in around 300 casualties each year, the Service are asking people to take extra care this winter.

The most important step you can take to keep yourself and your loved ones safe is to ensure your home has working smoke alarms. To prevent candle fires from starting in your home, make sure your candles are kept away from flammable materials like curtains and ensure candles are put out when you leave the room, even for a moment.

Head of the Service’s Prevention department, Nick Evans, said: “Candles are a typical sight in many homes, scenting our rooms and giving an atmospheric glow to cold winter nights. But it’s important to remember that a candle is not just a decorative feature. Left unattended, an open flame scenting your home could leave a trail of devastation.

“Place your lit candles with extra care, away from curtains, pets and children and always remember to put them out when you leave the room, even for a moment.”

“Even with these precautions it’s vital to be prepared should the worst happen. Working smoke alarms can give you the vital time you need to get out, stay out and call 999. Keep yourself and your loved ones safe by testing your alarm regularly and by practicing your escape routes.”

It is much safer to use battery operated candles, but if you are using wax candles, it’s important you follow these tips:

  • Never leave lit candles unattended. Put burning candles out when you leave the room, and make sure they’re out completely at night.

  • Place your candles carefully. Make sure they are on a stable surface, out of the reach of pets and children, and keep them away from flammable objects like curtains, furniture, bedding and books.

  • Don’t move candles once they are lit and make sure they are secure in a recognised candle holder.

  • Do not burn several candles close together as this might cause the flame to flare.

  •  Burn candles in a well-ventilated room, out of drafts, vents or air currents. This will help prevent rapid or uneven burning, soot, and dripping.

  • Always put scented candles in a heat resistant holder. These candles are designed to liquefy when heated to maximise fragrance.

  • Never leave a match in the candle after igniting. This is referred to as “double wicking” which leads to a higher heat and energy output from the candle and can damage candle holders.

  • Keep clothes and hair away from the naked flame.

  • Fit smoke alarms and test them now and monthly. A working smoke alarm can buy you valuable time to get out, stay out and call 999. 

  • Make sure that everyone in your home knows what to do if a fire should occur– practise your escape route.

In the unfortunate event you should find your clothes catch fire from a candle or you burn yourself on the flame/wax following the two safety messages below may help someone in an emergency and could save a life:

STOP, DROP, ROLL - If your clothes catch fire, running around won't help. You must always stop, drop to the ground (cover you face with your hands) and roll over and over. Make sure you roll over a few times, to ensure that you put the fire out.

COOL, CALL, COVER - Good first aid following a burn or scald can make an enormous difference in recovery times and the severity of scarring. First aid advice from the British Burn Association:

  • Cool the burn with running cold tap water for 20 minutes and remove all clothing and jewellery (unless it is melted or firmly stuck to the wound).

  • Call for help: 999, 111 or local GP for advice.

  • Cover with cling film or a sterile, non-fluffy dressing or cloth. Make sure the patient is kept warm.

Once you have taken these steps, you'll then need to decide whether further medical treatment is necessary.

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Candle fire safety