At a glance
- Candles are frequently responsible for starting fires at properties
- 350 people a year in the UK are injured by candle fires, with nearly 40% of candle fires resulting in injury or death
- We look at how best to manage the risks posed by candles
Candles, incense and oil burners may create a warming ambience in homes across the UK – but they are one of the biggest causes of fires and deaths.
Around 350 people are injured in candle fires in the UK each year and nearly 40% of all fires started by candles result in a death or injury.
It’s important to remember that a candle is an open flame, which means that it can easily ignite anything that can burn.
Even the smallest candle can be dangerous
We recently handled a fire claim where a flat was smoke damaged as a result of a tenant leaving a lit tea light on top of his television. The tea light produced sufficient heat to ignite the plastic casing of the television.
This caused a small explosion, which woke the tenant in the early hours of the morning and possibly saved his life.
The outcome of this incident could have been very different, particularly if the door to the living room had not been closed.
Candles with care – hints and tips
Take time to inform your customers of the following pieces of guidance regarding candles, oil burners and other objects that use a flame:
- Light candles carefully and keep them at least 30cm away from flammable objects such as curtains, furniture, bedding, books or hair
- Always use a heat resistant holder on a stable surface, which won’t be knocked over – remember tea lights can melt through plastic surfaces like TVs or baths
- Burn candles in a well-ventilated room, out of draughts, vents or air currents – this will help prevent rapid or uneven burning, soot, and dripping
- Do not burn several candles close together as it might cause the flame to flare
- Keep out of reach of children and pets
- Don’t move candles once they are lit
- Avoid the use of candles where people may fall asleep
- Never leave burning candles, incense or oil burners unattended
- Don’t burn a candle all the way down — put it out before it gets too close to the holder or container
- Never use a candle if oxygen is used in the home
- Have flashlights and battery-powered lighting ready to use during a power outage
- Fit a smoke alarm and test it regularly. A working smoke alarm can buy you valuable time to get out, stay out and call 999
To discuss any aspect of this article further, speak to your usual Zurich contact.
You can also find out more and access helpful guides and insight with our new Fire Risk Resource.