Candles are present in seven out of 10 American households, and are a popular means to fill homes with fragrance, create ambient light and/or set the mood.

However, despite their allure, candles can be dangerous. Between 2007 and 2011, candles were the culprits behind more than 10,600 home fires.

Next time you light a candle, follow these seven safety rules:

1. Keep Candles Away From Flammables

More than half of home candle fires originate from igniting some form of combustible material. Keep candles at least 12 inches away from flammables—this includes curtains, lampshades and cabinets.

2. Don’t Leave Lit Candles Unattended

A seemingly innocent flickering candle can quickly grow and become dangerous. For this reason, lit candles should never be left unattended. Snuff all candles when you leave the room or go to bed.

3. Properly Discard Matches

After you strike a match and blow it out, there could still be a residual flame lingering. If this is thrown in a wastebasket, a fire can ensue. Instead, run each used match under water before discarding. This will ensure that the match is completely extinguished.

4. Avoid Candle Use During Power Outages

Roughly 20 percent of fatal candle fires occur during power outages. Keep your home stocked with battery-powered flashlights, so that you do not have to resort to candles.

5. Keep Out of Children’s Reach

Children are naturally curious and may not fully understand the dangers of the bright, dancing flame. As such, when you light a candle, make sure it is out of reach of children.

In addition, keep matches and lighters out of children’s hands. If they see you strike a match, they may want to try it themselves.

6. Properly Handle Candles That Shouldn’t Be Snuffed

Religious candles, such as votive, vigil, yahrzeit and Shabbat candles are meant to burn to the wick. For candles that cannot be blown out or snuffed, take extra precaution.

Before going to bed or leaving the room, place all candles that will burn for a prolonged period of time in the sink or on a metal tray. In addition, candles should be placed inside glass, such as a hurricane glass. This will prevent wind or movement from moving the flame or knocking over the candle.

7. Ensure Fire Detectors Are Working Properly

The National Fire Alarm Code requires all residential household fire systems—smoke and fire detectors, and sprinklers— be inspected annually. Best vendors send trained personnel to your home to test and review the system. They will confirm all equipment is operational and optimally placed.

In between annual checkups, perform self-maintenance by regularly testing your devices to ensure proper functionality.

Most models have an intuitive system in place to check workability; however, please refer to your manual to confirm that tests are being carried out properly.

How do you ensure candle safety? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Image Source: Peter Becker via Flickr