Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service

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Candles - Facts and Statistics

Fire Facts

The increased use of candles and associated products in recent years has been reflected by the increase in the number of house fires and accidents started by these products.

Uk Fire & rescue Services reported 1791 house fires started by candles in 2003 causing 22 fatal and 664 non fatal casualties.

National estimates of attendance at hospitals for injuries associated with candles have also shown a marked increase.

Candles are becoming ever more popular. The candle market has increased by around 50%.

Candles are no longer used just as functional products or for the odd dinner party. They have become part of everyday life, used for relaxing and enhancing the look and atmosphere of a room. It is almost impossible to pick up a glossy magazine without the photographs of room makeovers including candles as decoration. Unfortunately in most cases the candles are shown inappropriately positioned or used.

The main reasons for fires started by candles appear to be:
increasing use of candles;
candles left unattended in living rooms and bedrooms;
people falling asleep without extinguishing candles;
candles not being used with appropriate holders, or on inappropriate surfaces;
candles being positioned too close to flammable materials (furnishing and clothing).

Causes of accidents

Attendance at UK hospital accident and emergency (A&E) units for injuries in fires caused by candles, candlewax or candlesticks has also shown a significant increase over recent years.

The main causes of injury are burns - hot wax (26%) and flames (39%) - and lacerations (12%). Smoke inhalation from fires started by candles resulted in 16% of visits to A&E units.

These reported incidents illustrate some of the types of misuse of candles, in these cases leading to personal injury, but also suggesting the types of use that could lead to house fires.

Examples of information recorded at A&E departments:

"picked up hot candle and wax spilt onto hand"

"burn to fingers on nightlight - had got a knife to take it out of incense burner - carrying it through to the kitchen when fell off knife and he tried to catch it"

"had lit candle on kitchen draining board, opened window, went upstairs - wind blew curtain onto candle setting them alight"

"candle melted onto stereo"

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