Candle and Oil Lamp Safety

THE POINT

It is safest to use battery operated light, but that is not always an option. If necessary, learn how to safely use candles and oil lamps. Whenever using an open flame, always practice fire safety and have extinguishing materials on hand.

DO THIS

  • Store candles and oil lamp/lantern supplies in a cool, dark, and dry area out of reach of children.
  • Have properly fitting candle holders for the candles you have.
  • Keep and maintain fire extinguishers and other extinguishing materials.
  • Safely store an adequate amount of lamp oil.
  • Learn how to safely use candles and oil lamps and lanterns. Teach others.

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Battery operated flashlights and lamps are the safest to use for light in an emergency situation. The potential fire hazard and breathable toxins in the air from candles and oil lamps don't make them the safest choice. But in an emergency, you do the best you can with what you have. If you run out of batteries, you only option may be candles and/or oil lamps. If you must use them, be very cautious and practice fire safety at all times. Have extinguishers ready.A burning candle.

If your only option is to have an open flame in your home for light, keep it as small as possible.A lighted oil lamp sitting next to a window. Never leave a candle alone. It you can't take it with you, blow it out and let it cool before you leave. Keep it away from children and pets, and a minimum of twelve inches away from anything combustible like curtains, blankets, or furniture. Only use a candle with a sturdy candle holder that won't tip over and is large enough to catch the melting wax. Beware of hot candle wax. It WILL burn you. For emergencies, you want to use a non-colored, non-perfumed candle. This minimizes the amount of toxins put into the air that you will be breathing. This is especially important if someone in your home has respiratory issues or allergies.

The safety of oil lamps is pretty much the same as for candles. Never leave it unattended, extinguish it before you go to sleep, keep it away from children and pets, and anything combustible. Use the highest quality, purest lamp oil without color or perfumes you can find. This will prevent harmful particles in the air you are breathing. Check to make sure it is rated as indoor safe. Only use it in a well ventilated area, and keep the extinguishers at the ready. Trim the wick of any loose or out of place fibers before filling. Never fill the lamp with oil when it is lit. When you need to fill the lamp, follow the manufacture's directions as to how much. Do not over fill. Use a funnel and wipe up any spills immediately. Allow an hour for the wick to become fully saturated before lighting.  After lighting, roll the wick down to expose only about a quarter of an inch of wick. You will get a better flame and reduce smoke.

Propane and white gas or "Coleman" style lanterns are only to be used outside because of the toxic gases they produce. Always follow all cautions and instructions on the proper use of your light producing equipment.

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