Question: My 85-year-old mother loves candles and is always burning them, especially on chilly winter nights. She also often falls asleep with a candle burning. Since she lives alone, I’m worried about her safety.
Your mother could be vulnerable to a very real safety threat. The U.S. Fire Administration says people over the age of 65 have a home fire death rate nearly twice the national average. For those over 75, that risk nearly triples. Older adults account for 32 percent of fire deaths and 12 percent of estimated fire injuries, according to the National Fire Data Center (NFDC) of the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA).
People with limited physical and cognitive abilities, especially older adults, are at a higher risk of death from fire than other groups.
Ask your mom to consider these safety tips from the National Candle Association:
- Keep lighted candles within your sight.
- Never leave a burning candle unattended.
- Never burn a candle on or near anything that can catch fire.
- Keep candles out of the reach of children and pets.
- Trim wicks to one-fourth inch prior to each use.
- Keep candles away from drafts and vents.
- Always use an appropriate candleholder placed on a stable, heat-resistant surface.
- Read and follow all manufacturer instructions carefully.
Maximum burn times vary from candle to candle; follow the manufacturer’s instructions, the National Candle Association recommends. Always extinguish a candle if the flame gets too close to the candle holder or container. For a margin of safety, discontinue burning a candle when 2 inches of wax remains (one-half inch if a container candle or jar candle).
Since your mother lives alone, ask her to consider hiring a home care companion, who could serve as a second set of eyes to keep her safe at home. Home Instead Senior Care hires CAREGivers who are screened, trained, bonded and insured. Also, why not purchase for your mother battery-operated flameless candles. They look like the real thing without the real fire danger.