Patrick Robinson

Seattle Fire Dept. issues candle safety tips for the holidays

It’s the holidays, and along with the gifts, in-laws and over-eating common to this time of year, many homes transition into festive mode with wreaths, bells, lights and the scents of the season emanating from heavily-perfumed pine cones and candles galore.

The Seattle Fire Department sent out a reminder on candles safety during the season, including statistics that in 2010, “candle fires caused 90 deaths, 820 injuries and $370 million in property damage (nationwide) according to the National Fire Protection Association.”

SFD said December is the “peak time” of the year for home candle fires, illustrated (a bit earlier than the peak) by a West Seattle house fire on Nov. 18 on the 9400 block of 7th Ave S.W. In that case, a candle was left burning unattended in a bedroom and caught nearby combustibles on fire, causing $70,000 in damages. Luckily, no one was injured.

The Seattle Fire Department’s Public Education Unit offers these basic rules to follow:
• Always keep burning candles within sight.
• Extinguish all candles when leaving the room of before going to sleep.
• Always use a candleholder specifically designed for candle use. The holder should be heat resistant, sturdy and large enough to contain any drips or melted wax.
• Place lighted candles where they won’t be knocked over by children, pets or anyone else.
• Keep burning candles away from furniture, drapes, bedding, carpets books, flammable decorations etc.
• Read and carefully follow all manufacturer instructions. Do not burn a candle longer than the manufacturer recommends.
• Extinguish pillar and taper candles when they burn to within two inches of the holder.
• Discontinue burning the votive and container candles before the last half-inch of wax melts.

In other fire safety news, new regulations for carbon monoxide alarms kick in for Washington residents on Jan. 1, 2013

Here are the details from Seattle Fire:

On January 1, 2013 new Washington state regulations go into effect requiring carbon (CO) monoxide alarms in all residential dwelling units. This applies even for dwellings that don’t have fireplaces or gas-fired appliances, because these are not the cause of the most severe incidents.

Following a 2006 windstorm, 250 people were treated for carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning in the Puget Sound area and eight died, all from either burning charcoal briquettes inside their homes or from improper use of gasoline-powered generators. In response to these tragedies, new state-wide law and building codes require CO alarms in most residential buildings, including single-family homes.

More information on carbon monoxide alarm requirements may be found on the Seattle Fire Department website at

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