Candles, costumes and coronavirus measures - how to celebrate safely this autumn

photo of lit candles

As part of the Fire Kills Candle Safety Week campaign, Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) is raising awareness of the fire hazards that come with candles, particularly in the lead up to Halloween and Diwali.

With celebrations looking slightly different this year in light of the COVID-19 control measures in place and with many organised events being cancelled, we are asking residents to take extra care while celebrating in their homes and gardens.

Gail Muirhead, West Hub Prevention Manager, said: “During the autumn period, candles can give our room an atmospheric glow on cold, dark nights or add festive cheer to the season’s celebrations. However, it’s important to remember that a candle is not just a decorative feature. Left unattended, an open flame could leave a trail of devastation.

“Remember to place your lit candles with extra care, away from clothing and costumes, decorations, children and pets, and always put them out when you leave the room, even if just for a moment. Even with these precautions, it’s vital to be prepared should the worst happen. Working smoke alarms can give you the vital time you need to get out, stay out and call 999.”

To help keep you and your loved ones safe this autumn, follow these tips:

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 - make sure they are on a stable surface, out of the reach of pets and children, and keep them away from material items like curtains, furniture, bedding and books.
  • Don’t 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 aircurrents - this will help prevent rapid or uneven burning, soot, and dripping.
  • Always put scented candles in a heat resistant holder as these candles are designed to liquefy when heated to maximise fragrance.

Costumes:

  • Make sure that when purchasing or using costumes and masks that they are labelled as flame-resistant.
  • Costumes should comply with EN71 – a European-wide standard, which tests for flammability. It should also have a CE mark, which means the product complies with European health and safety requirements.
  • Don’t use flammable materials to make home-made costumes.
  • Keep children away from naked flames at all times.
  • If your clothing does catch fire, remember to stop, drop and roll to smother the flames.


Decorations:

  • Check your festive lights carry the British Safety (BS) Standard kitemark sign.
  • Decorations can burn easily – don’t attach them to lights or heaters.


Burns:

While we hope residents take the correct precautions around naked flames, burns are often a direct result of incorrect practices. In line with National Burn Awareness Day on 14 October, we also have the following cool, call and cover advice:

  • Cool – cool the burn with running cold tap water for 20 minutes and remove all clothing and jewellery (unless it is melted or firmly stuck to the wound).
  • Call – call for help – 999, 111 or local GP for advice.
  • Cover - cover with cling film or a sterile, non-fluffy dressing or cloth and make sure the patient is kept warm.

Make sure that everyone in your home knows what to do if a fire should occur and practice your escape route. Fit smoke alarms and test them regularly - a working smoke alarm can buy you valuable time to get out, stay out and call 999. If there is an accident, always remember to get out, stay out and call 999.

For more information on celebrating safely visit our Celebrating Safely page.