December a “hot” month for candle fires, warns BCAA Insurance

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BURNABY, BC, Dec. 13, 2007 – Despite the winter weather, December is one of the hottest months of the year when it comes to candles and fire hazards, warns BCAA Insurance.

According to Fire Prevention Canada, December generates 20 times the average monthly number of candle-related incidents. And, as the 25th draws nearer, so do fire hazards. In fact, between December 15 and 30 alone, candle-related fires increase by a whopping 140 per cent.

BCAA Insurance claims manager Rob Keeper says open flame is one of the leading causes of home fires, and cautions homeowners to be extra vigilant when burning seasonal candles.

“Candles can add to the festive atmosphere, but they can also be dangerous if not used properly,” says Keeper. “The biggest mistakes people make with candles is placing them too close to flammable objects, or in areas where they can get knocked over. Other oversights include simply forgetting about them and letting them burn unattended.”

The single biggest day for fire-related claims reported to BCAA Insurance last December was the 27th. Keeper speculates that may be due to people leaving an abundance of used wrapping paper or boxes lying around, or to people becoming too relaxed and complacent following Christmas feasting and festivities. “You should never let your guard down when it comes to the safety of your home and family,” reminds Keeper.

To help ensure that your holiday season stays fire-free, BCAA recommends the following:

  • Be wary of novelty candles surrounded by flammable paint, paper or dried flowers.
  • Keep lit candles well away from anything that could catch fire, away from windows and drafts, and away from locations where they might get knocked over.
  • Burn only when a responsible adult is overseeing. Never leave a child or pet unattended in a room with a candle. Keep candles, matches and lighters up high, out of the reach of children.
  • Place candles firmly in candle holders that are sturdy and won’t easily tip.
  • Avoid using wood or plastic candle holders which can easily catch fire. Metal candle holders are safer. Also, take care when using glass candle holders — they can heat up and burn fingers, or even break if the flame gets too hot.
  • Snuff candles out before leaving the house or going to sleep.
  • Be aware that live trees, wreathes, and centre-pieces tend to dry out and become more flammable during the latter part of the holidays.
  • Keep wrapped gifts and trees away from fireplaces where they may be exposed to sparks and intense heat.
  • Check smoke detector batteries regularly and practice home escape plans so you’ll be prepared in the event of a fire.
  • Ensure you have a fire extinguisher in your home. Keep the extinguisher near an exit so if the fire spreads rapidly, you can leave the home quickly.

Homeowners and renters are also advised to consult their insurance advisor to ensure their home and/or belongings are adequately covered in case of fire.

About BCAA:

BCAA Insurance is one of the largest providers of home, auto, travel medical, and life insurance in B.C. BCAA insures over 100,000 homes in the province and receives an 80% total satisfaction rating with the overall claims process — 40% higher than the industry average. Each year, BCAA sells more travel insurance than any other provider in B.C. For more information, visit www.bcaa.com