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Candles, Kids and Safety Tips

Aug 17, 2007
Those who use candles around the house should train their children how to safely handle or avoid these wax decorator items. Although candles have been around for hundreds if not thousands of years, there have been occasional mishaps from fires and burns. Kids need to learn that candles are not toys and must be handled in the proper way.

Never let young children play with candles, even the ones that come on their birthday cakes or holiday decorations. Kids should learn that adults are the ones to handle candles. Touching a lit candle can cause a burn, and if one tips, it could cause a fire. Let your kids know in no uncertain terms that candles are for looking at, not touching.

Don't leave candles unattended. Children have an uncanny knack for finding the things they shouldn't, and touching them after being told not to. Some kids will say it was "accident" that they found or handled the lit candles. Others will "borrow" the candles to look at, and then experiment with lighting them in the privacy of their bedroom or another secluded area. Simply put up the candles beyond the reach of small children; older ones probably won't be interested, or they will be trained well enough to avoid the wax temptations.

At birthday parties or during holiday celebrations when candles are used as part of the decorations or at dinner, explain to older children the safe way of using candles. For example, they should learn how to light, monitor, and extinguish candles of all sizes, from tea lights to dinner candles. Kids should be able to use a lighter safely, along with a candle capper to put out the flame without touching it by hand. Explain what to do when the candle burns down, sputters, drips, tips, or goes out. You don't want kids taken by surprise if any of these things should happen while an adult is out of the room (hopefully this is a momentary absence).

Train your children in fire safety. Whether a fire should start from a candle or another source, kids need to know what to do in case a fire gets out of control. Remind them of what they probably learned in school ("stop, drop, and roll") as well as the important facts about leaving the house immediately and meeting at a certain area outside the house to ensure everyone's safety. A burnt tablecloth or drapery is a small price to pay for the safety of all family members.

Candles are a common source of home decorating today. Families with children should take time to explain the beauty and correct handling of candles that they plan to light for special occasions. Since candle use is one of the leading causes of house fires, it is important for children to understand how dangerous they can be, no matter how innocent they appear. Even if you don't plan to light your candles, teach your kids how to use them wisely.
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