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Candles & Incense – Staying Safe this Holiday!

The Dangers of Burning Candles and Incense

According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) from 2015-2019 U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 7,400 home structure fires that were started by candles per year. These fires caused an annual average of 90 deaths, 670 injuries and $291 million in direct property damage.

During this period, candles were the third leading cause of bedroom fires, the fourth leading cause of living room fires and the sixth leading cause of home fire injuries. On average, 20 home candle fires were reported per day and three of every five (60%) of home candle fires occurred when some form of combustible material was left or came too close to the candle.

While flameless candles are the safest way to go, we know burning candles and incense are an important part of many religious, cultural, spiritual and personal celebrations.

Candle & Incense Safety Tips 

As you continue to enjoy important fall and winter holidays, please pay special attention to the following to keep everyone safe.

  • When possible, use flameless battery-operated candles — they can look and smell like real candles.
  • Keep candles and incense at least 12+ inches from anything that can burn.
  • Candleholders should be heat resistant, sturdy and large enough to contain any drips or melted wax and won’t tip over easily.
  • Place candle and incense holders on a sturdy, uncluttered surface where they won’t be knocked over.
  • Blow out all candles and distinguish incense before you leave a room and before you go to bed.
  • Keep candles, incense, matches and lighters out of reach of children and pets,
  • Don’t burn a candle all the way down — put it out before it gets too close to the holder or container.
  • Avoid the use of candles and incense in the bedroom and other areas where people may fall asleep.
  • Always have a flashlight with batteries handy in case of a power outage.

Enjoy our candle and incense safety video in multiple languages.

Additional tips from NFPA can be found here: religious candle safety and safety with candles .

Wishing you a very joyful, safe and healthy holiday season! For more information about Seattle Fire Department’s public education program, please visit our Safety and Community page.