Surrey Fire Volunteer Service

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Tea Lights & Candles

Home Fire Safety

Of course candles are only a small part of Fire Safety in your home - please visit our Home Fire Safety page where you can download a leaflet in seventeen languages and find useful information on planning your escape.

Fifty Shades of Grey

I walked back into the house with the cold, shocked owner on my arm, her pale white face and fragrant hair juxtapostioned against the blackened shell and pungent smell of smoke as we tread on the sodden, now grey, carpets.


Wisps of grey smoke hang in the air and the drip, drip, drip of the retreating water plays out a chorus in the silence of destruction.


In the bathroom now stands a grotesque and blackened melted bathtub, testament to the power of fire, spawned from that single flame.

From the white floor tiles, strangely cleaned by the firefighter's water sabre, up to the ragged ceiling as black as the darkest night sky, fifty shades of grey transcend the once pristine walls - the perfect gradient suffocating all underlying colour.


Less than two hours ago, the owner was lying here in this very room, mesmerised by the light of the tea-candles, relaxing and planning the future. Now it's all gone - snatched by the flames.


A careless moment - a simple tea candle placed on the acrylic bath without a safe least she still has her life.  

A short video from our colleagues in West Sussex Fire & Rescue illustrates the danger of leaving tea light candles on top of flammable surfaces.

Dangers of Tea Lights

Candle Safety advice

  • Always put candles on a heat resistant surface. Be especially careful with night lights and tea lights, which get hot enough to melt plastic. TVs are not fire-resistant objects.


  • Put them in a proper holder. Candles need to be held firmly upright by the holder so they won’t fall over. The holder needs to be stable too, so it won’t fall over either.


  • Position them away from curtains. Don’t put candles near curtains or other fabrics – or furniture. And keep them out of draughts.


  • Don’t put them under shelves. It’s easy to forget that there’s a lot of heat above a burning candle. If you put it under a shelf or other surface then it can burn the surface. Make sure there’s at least three feet (one metre) between a candle and any surface above it.


  • Keep clothes and hair away. If there’s any chance you could lean across a candle and forget it’s there, put it somewhere else. You don’t want to set fire to your clothes or your hair.


  • Keep children and pets away. Candles should be out of reach of children and pets.


  • Keep candles apart. Leave at least four inches (10cm) between two burning candles.


  • Take care with votive or scented candles. These kinds of candles turn to liquid to release their fragrance, so put them in a glass or metal holder.


  • Don’t move them when they’re burning. Extinguish candles before moving them. Also, don’t let anything fall into the hot wax like match sticks.


  • Don’t leave them burning. Extinguish candles before you leave a room. Never go to sleep with a candle still burning. And never leave a burning candle or oil burner in a child’s bedroom.


  • Use a snuffer or a spoon to put them out. It’s safer than blowing them, which can send sparks and hot wax flying.


  • Double-check they’re out. Candles that have been put out can go on smouldering and start a fire. Make sure they’re completely out.

Be a Volunteer. Make a difference.

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