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candle safety


Materials most easily ignited by candles are:

Mattresses and bedding
Curtains and Drapes
Interior Wall Coverings
Upholstered Furniture
Event Decorations
Newspapers and Writing Paper
Rugs and other Floor Coverings

Beware of Lead Wicks

A paraffin candle sometimes has lead in the wick's core, which you can spot by looking for a thin wire in the center of the cotton wick. Lead matter is emitted when the candle burns. This is distressing news in light of the fact that 100 percent of lead inhaled from candlewicks is absorbed into the bloodstream.

The Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that families exposed to candles with metallic wicks should have their blood-lead levels checked.

Children are particularly vulnerable to lead poisoning. Chronic low-level exposure can produce permanent neuro-psychological defects and behavior disorders, including low IQ, short attention span, hyperactive behavior and motor difficulties. As for adults, early signs of poisoning include gastrointestinal problems, muscle pains and weakness, irritability, excessive thirst, headache, insomnia, depression and lethargy. People with asthma or lung or heart diseases are especially susceptible because even small amounts of lead particles can aggravate their condition.

Candles are enjoyable, calming and fragrant, but don't ever forget that when you burn them, you are dealing with fire.  Always take proper precautions to prevent your enjoyable experience from turning into a disaster.

The number of home fires started by candles has increased dramatically in the last ten years.  According to the National Fire Prevention Association the number of fires caused by candles in homes throughout the country increased from 5,460 in 1990 to 11,600 in 1997 - the most recent year for which data are available.  Ironically this increase occurred during a period in which home fires in general are on the decline.  U. S. consumers spent over $2.3 billion on candles during the year 2000.  Since the candle-making industry has grown (and continues to grow) at a rate of about 10 to 15% annually, opportunities for home fires will increase even further unless consumers become more aware of the potential for danger that candles pose if they are not used in accordance with established safety procedures.

Most of these candle-caused fires started when lit candles were left unattended, or because some form of combustible material was left too close to the candle, or because children were playing with the candles or something flammable near the candles.  Five percent of home candle fires started when the occupant fell asleep while the candle was burning.  Almost half of all candle fires start in the bedroom.

Contact us

 Call (574) 272-2144
Fax (574) 272-4043
Write: 18355 Auten Rd
 South Bend, IN 46637
Police-Fire-EMS-Dial 911


David Cherrone
Fire Marshal
Ron Melser Jr.
Lieutenant, Fire Prevention Specialist

Office Hours

8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  

 Evening Information

For all Non-emergency information during evening and weekend hours please leave a message with duty shift.  Your call will be answered on the next day's regular business hours.

  •  Many injuries are caused each year when gas grills are improperly used and consumers takeuneducated chances regarding grill safety. A fire or explosion can occur when consumers first use a grill that has been left idle for a period of time or just after refilling and reattaching the grill's gas container. To reduce these risks, consumers should  follow these gas grill safety tips. It might prevent a tragedy.

  • Liquid petroleum (LP) gas or propane, used in gas grills, is extremely flammable.
    Consumers should use extreme caution and always follow manufacturer's instructions when connecting or disconnecting LP gas containers. Never attempt to repair the tank valve or the appliance yourself. See an LP gas dealer or a qualified appliance repair person.

  • A gas grill should be checked for leaks every time the cylinder is replaced.
  • Check the tubes that lead into the burner for any blockage from insects, spiders, or food grease.
  • Use a pipe cleaner or wire to clear blockage and push it through to the main part of the burner.
  • Check grill hoses for cracking, brittleness, holes, and leaks.
  • Make sure there are no sharp bends in the hose or tubing.- Move gas hoses as far away as possible from hot surfaces and dripping hot grease.
  • If you can't move the hoses, install a heat shield to protect them.
  • Replace scratched or nicked connectors, which can eventually leak gas.

The Clay Fire Territory offers the following advice for using candles safely:

  • Position candles well away from flammable objects and materials, and well away from any possible contact by pets or children.  Don't put lit candles in windows, where blinds or curtains can close over them.  

  • Keep candles and all open flames away from flammable liquids.

  • Place candles on heat-resistant surfaces which will not transmit heat to the furniture on which they are placed.  Ceramics work well for this purpose.  Candles should also be placed in heat-resistant bowls that will catch dripping wax, and secured in an appropriate holder so there's not the slightest possibility of the candle falling over, or being blown or knocked over.

  • Never leave a burning candle unattended.

  • Never light a candle in a situation in which you might fall asleep  before blowing it out.

  • When blowing out a candle, hold your index finger in front of the flame and blow at it.  Air will flow around your finger, extinguish the candle from both sides, and prevent hot wax from splattering.

  • Install a smoke detector in every room where candles are burned.

Don't get a sense of false security because you bought jar candles.  The U.S. Consumer Product Safety commissioner has issued a number of recalls of candles and candle-related products.  The flames on some candles could shoot up seven inches or more and in some cases, candle holders or containers can overheat, shatter or catch on fire.  An estimated 3% of candle fires started when their holders, usually glass, broke.

 Date Last Modified: Wednesday, March 05, 2008
Mailing Address:  18355 Auten Road, South Bend, IN 46637
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