Beautiful to View – Dangerous to Ignore

By Doug Bardwell – American Red Cross Volunteer-Communications and Disaster Services

Candles can add beauty, fragrance and ambiance to any home.  They can even add the scent of fresh pine to a home with an artificial tree. But, home safety trumps ambiance, so keep these easy to follow suggestions in mind during the holiday season (and the rest of the year as well.)


Photo credit: Mel Turner on Unsplash

Flickering flames can be extremely interesting to toddlers.  Keeping candles high enough to avoid their reach goes without saying, but if your toddler is ingenious enough to drag over a stool or chair, make sure that the candle will still be out of reach.

If you live in a home with cats, make sure that the candle is somewhere kitty can’t jump or climb.  One swish of a long, furry tail and your candle could come flying down.

Never place candles near draperies or other flammable fabrics. Also, consider open windows. Loose papers or blowing curtains could easily come in contact with the flame.

Candles in the bedroom can be truly romantic; but, statistics show that one-third of candle fires start in the bedroom and approximately half of candle-related deaths occur after midnight and before 6:00 a.m. Be sure to extinguish your candles before you dose off to sleep, or better yet, opt for the inexpensive, flickering, battery-operated candles.  Some even come with small remote controls.


If there is a power outage, opt for a flashlight or other battery-powered light. Candles can easily get knocked over in the darkness.  As an alternate, consider these Red Cross nightlights which plug into an outlet, and emit a soft glow. If the power goes out, they turn to a bright white light and can actually be removed from the outlet to serve as a flashlight.  No batteries to ever worry about, since the outlet keeps them charged constantly.

Make sure the candle holder is sized properly for the intended candle. Preferably, have multiple holders for all your favorite-sized candles.  If the holder is too loose, the candle could shift and fall at any time.

Finally, a UL/NFPA approved fire extinguisher is always great to have nearby.  Make sure all family members know where it’s located and know how to properly use it. Now’s an ideal time to review your family escape plan as well.

Read on for more practical fire safety tips.

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