The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is urging the public to focus on candle safety during its Fire Prevention Week 2005, Oct. 9-15, 2005. As the theme makes clear, emphasis is placed on the need for increased consumer caution: "Use Candles with Care: When you go out, blow out!"

NFPA's public safety campaign and related materials concentrate on home use of candles, which represent a uniquely residential concern. Nine out of 10 reported U.S. candle fires occur in homes.

Reported home candle fires rose 15% from 2000 to 2001, from 15,700 to 18,000, continuing a climb that began in 1990 when there were 5,500 candle fires.

Forty-one percent of home candles fires start in the bedroom, resulting in a quarter of associated fire deaths. Eleven percent of the home candle fires start after someone falls asleep. NFPA's research also shows that home candle fires follow a seasonal pattern. December has almost twice the number of home candle fires of an average month.

Leaving candles unattended and using candles for light were singled out in NFPA's analysis as serious fire problems. Always stay awake and in the room where candles are being burned. In a power outage, it is safer to use flashlights or other light sources generated by batteries. Never use a candle for light when checking pilot lights or fueling equipment such as a kerosene heater or lantern, as the flame could ignite flammable vapors.

Detailed information about home candle fires and trends, and specific fire safety advice to prevent candle fires, can be found in NFPA's Home Candle Fire report, available on NFPA's official Fire Prevention Week website,