Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (MFRS) is urging people to take extra care when using candles after five house fires in one week caused by tea lights and candles.

The most recent – which occurred in Edge Hill in the early hours of Thursday 3rd December – resulted in one person ending up in hospital and the property severely damaged.

Four other house fires – in Tranmere, Gateacre, Netherley and Bootle – were also caused by candles that had come into contact with flammable materials after being left unattended.

Mark Thomas Group Manager for Prevention at MFRS, said: “Fortunately, in these five incidents, the residents were not seriously injured but a number of these were serious fires that could have resulted in serious injury or even loss of life.”

With around a quarter of all fires started by candles attended by fire and rescue services nationally result in death or injury, MFRS is urging people to be extra vigilant when using candles.

Group Manager Thomas said: “With winter under way and Christmas approaching, we know that many people are using candles to give their home that warm, cosy glow in the evening. But candles can be extremely dangerous, as these incidents show, if not used correctly.

“To prevent candle fires from starting in your home, you should make sure candles are placed in heat-resistant holders and kept away from combustible materials like curtains, carpets and other fabrics. Don’t place tea lights or candles directly onto bedside tables, bath tubs or televisions unless they are in a holder.

“Always ensure candles are fully extinguished when you leave the room, even if just for a moment, and NEVER leave candles lit when you go to bed. The safest way to use candles and tea lights is to use LED-battery operated ones instead of ordinary ones, but please make sure the batteries cannot be accessed by children or pets.”

Smoke alarms undoubtedly saved the day in the majority of these candle fires, alerting the occupiers to the fire quickly before it could take hold.

Group Manager Thomas added: “The most important step you can take to keep yourself and your loved ones safe is to ensure your home has working smoke alarms. This is absolutely vital. Working smoke alarms can give you the time you need to escape. Remember, in the event of a fire – get out, stay out and call 999.”

Top tips for staying safe with candles:

  • Never leave lit candles unattended. Put burning candles out when you leave the room, and make sure they’re out completely at night.
  • Place your candles carefully. Take extra care with candles if you have children and pets – they can easily knock candles over or get burned. Make sure to place candles on a stable surface well away from flammable objects like curtains, furniture, bedding and books.
  • Avoid lighting candles with matches. There is a risk of dropping the match into the candle which can cause ‘double wicking’ and cause the candle to burn faster and hotter than it is designed.
  • Do not move candles once they are lit.
  • Do not burn several candles close together as this might cause the flame to flare
  • Burn candles in a well-ventilated room, out of drafts, vents or air currents. This will help prevent rapid or uneven burning, soot, and dripping.
  • Always put scented candles in a heat resistant holder. These candles are designed to liquefy when heated to maximise fragrance.
  • Fit smoke alarms and test them now and monthly. A working smoke alarm can buy you valuable time to get out, stay out and call 999.
  • Make sure that everyone in your home knows what to do if a fire should occur – practice your escape route.

For free fire safety advice, or to request a home fire safety check, please call 0800 731 5958.

Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service also provides free smoke alarms for Merseyside residents aged 65 and over.

Due to COVID-19, risk assessments will be carried out over the phone before any home visits can be arranged.

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