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“Candle” with care during campus fire safety months

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By LisaMarie Sinatra

Now that we’ve headed into October, you’ve probably noticed the days getting shorter, the air a little chillier, and the leaves changing their colors right before your eyes.

These darker, cooler days also trigger our desire to dig into the mantel drawer and pull out a pair or two of those beautiful decorative candles bought at a recent crafts or school fair. We all love the fact that candles help to create a warm and homey glow to any gloomy day, but it’s also important to consider the dangers that candles pose.

FACT: Roughly one-third of home candle fires start in the bedroom.*

FACT: More than half of all candle fires start when things that can burn are too close to the candle.*

So, while the idea of being surrounded by candlelight as you do your homework or entertain guests sounds romantic, we should always remember that a candle is an open flame, which means that it can easily ignite anything that can burn.

If you do burn candles, make sure that you:

* Blow out all candles when you leave the room or go to bed. Avoid the use of candles in the bedroom and other areas where people may fall asleep.

* Keep candles at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn.

* Use candle holders that are sturdy and won’t tip over easily, and put candle holders on a sturdy, uncluttered surface.

What else can you do? As an alternative to real candles, consider using flameless candles in your dorm room or at home. They look and smell like the real deal. (And if you don’t believe me, the next time you’re in a restaurant, check out the candle at your table … chances are, it’s flameless!)

You can also check out NFPA’s candle safety tips sheets. There’s great advice to help keep you safe if there is a candle in the room, and additional safety information for candle use during religious ceremonies. Read NFPA’s candle safety fact sheet and watch a video for an “at a glance” look at home fire safety and candle use.

We all know that candles are really pretty, but they are also a major cause of home fires and home fire deaths. So play it safe, everyone, and thank you!

*Source: NFPA’s “Home Candle Fires” report by Marty Ahrens, December 2012.

Source:: NFPA – Safety Information

Michael S. Williams

Michael S. Williams

Williams founded the Fire Services Training Institute in 1995 to find solutions to the challenges confronting the volunteer fire service. He has been an active member of California State Firefighters Association (CSFA) since 1994, having served on the volunteer and public relations committees, and as a southern division deputy director. He sits on several local organizations including the Santa Barbara County Fire Safe Council, the Tri-Counties Training Officers Association, Santa Barbara Chapter of CAER and is a founding member of the Santa Barbara PIO group Emergency Public Information Communicators (EPIC). He has been the author of many articles and a columnist for a local newspaper on public safety matters. He is also the co-host of Community Alert on KZSB AM-1290 in Santa Barbara. Williams has been a member of the California State Board of Fire Services since 2008. Prior to becoming involved in the volunteer fire service, Williams was a California police officer for 12 ½ years and a POST certified Field Training Officer. He is a licensed private investigator and security consultant specializing in self-insured, government and insurance defense assignments.


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