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Are you playing it safe with candles? 4 rules to remember

Reports circulated last week about a freak accident involving a Bath & Body Works three-wick candle. A woman claimed she noticed the flames burning 5 or 6 inches above the glass container and when she went to blow it out, a fireball shot back into her face, causing burns.

A video showing the explosion went viral, although it has now been made private. While the investigation is still ongoing, TODAY Home chatted with a fire safety expert to get tips for burning any kind of candle in your home.

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Candles add a nice decorative touch, but make sure you're playing it safe.

Jim Bullock, former deputy chief of the New York City Fire Department and current president and CFO of NY Fire Consultants warned that candles start fires in homes all the time. “It’s an open flame,” he said, adding that many things can catch fire from it.

Bullock recommends using battery candles that are a lot safer, but if you do want to light a real one for special occasions or its scent, here are a few things to remember:

1. Never leave the room the candle is in

When you have an open flame going, it’s important to be in the same room to keep an eye on it, Bullock says. That way, you’ll be able to take action immediately at the sign of something going wrong, whether it’s a growing flame or something catching fire.

2. Keep it away from drafts and curtains

Planning to put your candle on a windowsill? Bullock says that’s a bad idea. A breeze could move the curtains onto it and, soon enough, the entire panel could be on fire.

He also warns that you don’t want to have the candle anywhere near pieces of paper. While it can seem like there’s no way the flame would come into contact with anything, a simple draft from a door closing or air conditioner breeze could cause the paper to light on fire.

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Fire safety experts say you should never put candles on windows next to curtains.

3. Put it in the middle of a stable table

Avoid putting the candle near an edge where it could fall over, and make sure the table isn’t wiggly where it might tip, says Bullock. And be careful if you’re reaching across the table for something, which could result in your shirt catching fire.

4. Light a multi-wick candle strategically

If you have a three-wick candle, start by lighting the wick that’s furthest from you and then move forward. That way, you’ll avoid putting your hand on top of open flames.

A few other quick reminders:

  • Have the candle in a holder that will collect the wax.
  • Don’t let it burn all the way down.
  • Keep the wick trimmed to ¼ inch before burning.
  • Never throw candles in the trash immediately after using them.
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Always keep candles in votives that will collect the melting wax.

TODAY Home also reached out to Bath & Body Works about the incident regarding their candle. A spokesperson for the company said they are very sorry to hear this happened and are taking this situation extremely seriously while they actively work to learn more details from the customer.

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“As more than a decade of rigorous testing has shown, our candles are safe to use in accordance with the printed instructions,” the spokesperson said, adding that for additional information about the safe use of candles, they encourage users to see the recommendations of the National Candle Association at candles.org.

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