Mass. Dept. of Fire Services urges public to be careful to prevent candle fires at home, which are most common over this holiday season
(Editor’s Note: The state Department of Fire Services issued the following press release, urging the public to practice safety when it comes to using candles in the home. The Saugus Advocate requested information on the number of candle-related fires in Saugus in recent years, including information about property damage.)
Candle Safety Day is observed on the second Monday of December, and State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey is reminding residents to follow safety guidelines as we enter the period when most candle fires start. “There have been more than 1,000 candle fires in Massachusetts over the past 10 years,” State Fire Marshal Ostroskey said. “Together, they caused nine deaths, 192 injuries, and over $32 million in damages. More of these fires started in December than in any other month, and especially on the days leading up to Christmas. If candles are part of your celebration or decoration, be sure to use them carefully.”
Candles are part of many holiday traditions this time of year, including Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa. State Fire Marshal Ostroskey offered the following safety tips to reduce the risk of fire:
- No matter the season, have working smoke alarms on every level of your home, outside bedrooms, at the top of open stairs, and at the base of cellar stairs.
- Keep a one-foot “circle of safety” around candles, free of anything that can burn.
- Always extinguish candles when you leave the room or go to sleep, and don’t leave them unattended.
- Use a non-combustible saucer or candleholder.
- Keep candles out of reach of children and pets, and store matches and lighters up high where kids can’t access them.
- Consider switching to battery-operated flameless candles.
There were 93 candle fires in Massachusetts last year and 75 took place in residential settings. The most common location was the bedroom, followed by the kitchen, bathroom, and living room. One such fire in Boston began when a candle ignited bedroom curtains and spread, causing half a million dollars in damages and displacing five people from their home.
“Candle fires peaked in Massachusetts in 1999, when we recorded 342 of them,” State Fire Marshal Ostroskey said. “The following year, we began observing Candle Safety Day on the second Monday of December to promote awareness of the problem. Since that time, we’ve observed a 73% decrease in candle fires. Let’s continue to practice safe candle use, especially around the holidays.”
Candle-related fires in Saugus
The Saugus Advocate requested information on the number of candle-related fires in Saugus in recent years, including information about property damage.
“Fortunately, candle fires don’t seem to be a big issue in Saugus,” said Jake Wark, a spokesman for the state Department of Fire Services (DFS).
Wark noted that the last candle fire reported in Saugus was back in 2011, which caused $600 in property damage. Previously, candle-related fires in 2003 and 2005 caused an estimated property damage totaling $3,000 and $2,000, respectively.
For more candle safety resources, including Spanish-language information, visit the DFS website.https://www.mass.gov/service-details/candle-fire-safety.