Candles one of the major causes of home fires—especially during holidays
Courtesy Fire Prevention Canada
Candles provide great warmth and ambiance to any home. It is easy to forget that such a calming artifact is an open flame that can reach 1,400 °C. Most candle fires begin in the bedroom with a mattress or bedding cited as the first item to ignite except during the holidays, when more people use candles precariously too close to decorations. Furniture and plastics are also cited as the first items in the home to catch fire from a lit candle.
Statistics reveal that the most common causes of fire are
• Leaving candles unattended.
• Falling asleep while a candle is lit.
• Using candles for light.
• Candles located too close to burnable objects.
• Candles knocked over by children, pets or sudden drafts.
• Extinguish candles when leaving the room or going to sleep.
• Keep lit candles away from items that can catch fire such as toys, clothing, curtains, Christmas trees and paper decorations.
• Place candles in sturdy, burn-resistant containers that won’t tip over and are big enough to catch dripping wax.
• Don’t place lit candles near windows, where blinds or curtains may close or blow over them.
• Don’t use candles in high traffic areas where children or pets could knock them over.
• Never let candles burn out completely. Extinguish them when they get to within two inches of the holder.
• Never leave children or pets alone in a room with lit candles.
• Do not allow older children to light candles in their bedrooms. A forgotten candle or an accident is all it takes to start a fire.
• During power outages, exercise caution when using candles as a light source. Many destructive fires start when potential fire hazards go unnoticed in the dark.
• Never use a candle for light when fuelling equipment such as a camp fuel heater or lantern.
• Keep candle wicks short at all times. Trim the wick to one-quarter inch (6.4 mm).
• Be wary of buying novelty candles. Avoid candles surrounded by flammable paint, paper, dried flowers, or breakable/meltable containers.
• Use extreme caution when carrying a lit candle, holding it well away from your clothes and any combustibles that may be along your path.
There are no legal standards or regulations for candles, including their make, design, safety features, location or use. Candles are not tested by a testing agency for safety before they are put on the market for you to buy.
Courtesy Fire Prevention Canada
Fire Extinguishers 101
Read the instructions on your extinguisher for proper use. If there’s a fire, get everyone outside and ask a member of your family to call the fire department from a neighbour’s house. Only then should you permit yourself to fight a small fire. If the fire becomes large, get out. Close doors behind you to slow the spread of the fire.
The ABCD’s of Portable Fire Extinguishers
A fire extinguisher is a storage container for an agent like water or chemicals. It is designed to put out a small fire, not a large one. Extinguishers are labelled ABC or D. Ensure you use the right extinguisher for the appropriate type of fire.
A) Ordinary Combustibles – Fires started with paper, wood, drapes and upholstery require a Class A type extinguisher.
B) Flammable and Combustible Liquids – Fires originating from fuel oil, gasoline, paint, grease in a frying pan, solvents and other flammable liquids require a Class B type extinguisher.
C) Electrical Equipment – Fires started with wiring, overheated fuse boxes, conductors, and other electrical sources require a Class C type extinguisher.
D) Metals – Certain metals such as magnesium and sodium require a special dry powder Class D type extinguisher.
A multi-purpose dry chemical labelled ABC puts out most types of fires: wood, paper, cloth, flammable liquids and electrical fires. If you intend to buy more than one, you may want to purchase a BC for the kitchen, an A for the living room and an ABC for the basement and garage.
Learn How to PASS
- Pull the pin. Some units require the releasing of a lock latch, pressing a puncture lever, inversion or other motion.
- Aim the extinguisher nozzle at the base of the fire.
- Squeeze or press the handle.
- Sweep from side-to-side at the base of the fire and discharge the contents of the extinguisher.
Foam and water extinguishers require slightly different use. Read the instructions.