Whether you’re relaxing after a long day or decorating for a special dinner, candles should set the mood, not a fire. Unfortunately, many romantic dinners and quaint reading sessions go wrong when candlelight morphs into flames. Last week, an 8-unit apartment building in the Uptown neighborhood of south Minneapolis was destroyed in a fire caused by an unattended candle. There were no serious injuries, but our thoughts are with the victims of the fire as they try to rebuild. (Note: This was not a Gassen property.)
According to the National Candle Association, there are over 15,000 candle fires reported annually in the United States, and most of these fires are the result of negligence and a lack of basic fire safety precautions. Candle safety is especially important for those who live in multi-unit buildings or condominums, where fire can travel quickly from your home to your neighbors’. Below, a few basic guidelines for safe candle usage.
- Never leave a lit candle unattended. Stay in the room, and stay awake!
- Keep candles away from flammable items like paper, books, curtains, rugs, wall hangings, etc.
- Place candles on stable, tall surfaces, away from children and pets.
- Position burning candles at least three inches apart to avoid improper burning or melting.
- Use candle holders specifically designed for candle use. These items are heat resistant and large enough to contain hot wax. Can the same be said of that pretty plate made of flammable materials?
- Do not burn a candle down completely. Instead, leave a small amount of wax.
- Keep wicks short–about 1/4 inch–to avoid drips and uneven burning. Trim before use.
When in doubt, electric candles are a foolproof solution. Available in a variety of styles, like tea light and votive, electric candles use tiny LED light bulbs that mimic the soft, flickering glow of small candle flames. They are available in a variety of colors, and even as a rechargeable set. Use them on their own, or pop them into your favorite candle holders for risk-free lighting.
For more information about fire safety, visit the National Candle Association and the City of Minneapolis Fire Department. Italian restaurant Amore Victoria is hosting a silent auction and benefit dinner for the victims of the Uptown fire on Wednesday, January 9, 2012. The restaurant is also accepting donations, like gift cards, during open hours.
Remember, set the mood, not a fire.