Prevent Christmas candle fires with our top fire prevention tip

Fire and Safety Centre offers top safety advice to eliminate your personal risk from fires started by candles at home. Our Christmas candle fire safety tip is about thinking differently – but if things go wrong we have fire extinguishers and fire blankets to limit the damage.

Candle Fire Safety Week runs from now until 23rd November, so we’d like to keep you safe by sharing our top tip for preventing candle fires: get battery-powered models instead of the real thing!

The realism offered by widely-available battery-powered candles is uncanny. They look, and shed light, just like the real thing, but they have one major advantage – they won’t set fire to your home.

And rest assured that’s going to happen to someone, somewhere. And it’s going to happen today, as many about 50 times, destroying 50 homes. The same will be true tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that, because we’re entering the ‘candle fire’ season.

December: Peak month for candle fires

Candle Fire Safety Week is the source of the alarming statistic that there will be more than 2,500 candle-related fires during the course of the year, and it won’t be long before we reach the peak time for them – December, when the daily rate will be more than double that of the summer months.

That’s because the combination of a number of factors all add to risk levels:

Christmas candle fire tip, how to prevent a fire

• Increased household disruption
• Lots of decorations
• Real Christmas trees, which are highly flammable
• Boisterous pets
• Children with excitement levels reaching fever pitch
• A tendency to be a little less tidy than usual
• The presence of much larger quantities of flammable materials

All of that is made worse by our tendency to eat and drink too much, which can lead to falling asleep in chairs and generally being less aware than normal of the dangers posed by the introduction of naked flames in places they just wouldn’t normally be.

Data from AirWick candle-making company Reckitt Benckiser says seven in every ten candles bought in the UK are bought between September and February, which is why there are so many fires through the winter.

“A naked flame could result in a devastating fire”

Sir Ken Knight is the Government’s Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser, and he’s urging all of us to remember that a candle isn’t just another decoration; it’s a naked flame, and as such a potential fire starter. “Left unattended, a naked flame could result in a devastating fire,” he says.

Candle Dos and Don’ts

• place candles carefully, on a stable surface away from curtains, furniture, books, children and pets
• snuff them out when you leave the room, even for a few moments
• have a working smoke alarm; check its battery regularly
• have a fire escape plan that all the family understands
• put them in heat-resistant holders

• move them when they’re lit
• burn several close together, which can increase the fire risk
• put them in draughts
• leave them burning when you leave the room

Look at the candle in our picture. Is it wick-and-wax or battery-and-bulb? Hard to tell, isn’t it? So before you light a pretty candle to relax by, imagine how you’d feel if you were to set fire to your house and put your family’s lives at risk. Create a relaxing atmosphere with the help of safe candlelight from battery-powered candles instead, and you’ll be less exposed to dangers from fire.

See how fast fire spreads

The first time you see a Christmas tree burn can be jaw-droppingly unbelievable. Flames can engulf a room in under a minute. 

Invest in fire-fighting equipment

But if you must use real candles, be ready to put out a fire with a domestic fire extinguisher or fire blanket. We offer both items in a home safety pack. We even show you how to use a fire blanket on our advice pages.