Before you go out, blow it out

Candle safety is up to you, caution city fire officials

December 3, 2005

Hood River Fire Chief Jeff Walker warns that while candles may add a special touch to home decorating, they also present a fire hazard.

During 2004, Oregon had 142 candle-related fires, causing one fatality, 17 injuries and more than $3.3 million in property loss.

“Unattended candles left burning account for the majority of candle-related fires,” Walker said.

“That’s why Hood River Fire Department encourages you to blow it out, before you go out. Candle safety is up to you.”

Walker recommended following some simple guidelines:

* Always blow out candles before leaving the room or going to sleep.

* Keep candles at least one foot away from things that burn. This includes clothing, curtains, upholstered furniture, greenery, decorations and any other flammable items.

* Always use a sturdy metal, glass or ceramic candleholder. Make sure the candleholder is big enough to catch dripping wax.

* Place candles away from small children and pets.

* Trim wicks to one-quarter inch before lighting.

* Avoid candles with flammable items embedded. This includes twigs, flowers or leaves. These items can ignite or even explode.

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For brightening the holidays electrically, the Oregon Department of Energy notes that “LED”-type lights can reduce holiday lighting energy costs by about 90 percent.

The "light emitting diode" or LED holiday lights use very little electricity and are cool to the touch. Besides saving energy, the lights can last for years and stay lit even if one bulb goes out.

While they may cost more initially, LED lights can pay for themselves in just one season. The lights come in single- or multi-colored strings and a variety of shapes.

Limiting illumination time and installing timer devices are good ways to enjoy the luminescence while saving energy.

DOE recommends checking all your lights for damaged sockets, fixtures and cords.

Discard any that appear defective.

Also, instead of adding more strings to the tree, try maximizing the lights you have with mirrored ornaments and other items.

For more ways to save energy this winter, go to:

www.warmoregon.org

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