HEALTH FEATURE ARCHIVE

Candles Keep the Home Fires Burning

A new study from the National Fire Protection Association finds that candles are becoming an increasingly common cause of home fires. After declining for years, candle-related home fires started increasing again in 1991. What is the explanation for this fire-alarming trend?

Candles are currently used in 7 out of 10 American homes. Sometimes, it is because there is no electricity available. Reasons for lack of electricity include being in a rural or isolated location, not paying the electric bill or downed electric lines due to inclement weather such as wind or ice. But in many cases, candles are used simply for decoration or celebration. Candle fires are most common in December when the days are short and candles are a part of holiday decorating rituals. Another factor is that the public is encouraged to use colored and/or scented candles in the home to set a mood or create a special atmosphere, for example, romance, relaxation, less stress, etc.

Comment: You won't be relaxed and in a romantic mood if a candle starts a fire in your home! An astonishing 40% of home candle fires start in bedrooms. In spite of what those decorators say on the television shows and in magazines, it is probably not a good idea to have candles in bedrooms.

Personal Note: We live in Florida and just experienced Hurricane Jeanne. Because of falling trees, we were without electric power before, during and after the storm. We used batttery-operated light sources when we were moving around the house but we did use candles at times, for example, while preparing and eating meals. But we never carried any candles into the bath or the bedroom. We did not want to add a house fire to the rest of the damage caused by the hurricane.

Barbara K. Hecht, Ph.D.
Frederick Hecht, M.D.
Medical Editors, MedicineNet.com