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Beyond Babyproofing: Candle Safety & Worry-Free Flameless Options

If you enjoy the ambiance and great scents that candles add to a home, you’re not alone. Candle sales are up and they’re more popular than ever in home decorating, but there are a few things to remember before you light up…. especially if you have little ones running about.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, the number of home fires started by candles is on the rise. They report that three main factors contribute to candle-related house fires; unattended candles that are allowed to over-burn, candles placed near combustibles such as wall hangings, and children playing with lit candles.

Fortunately, some clever candle makers now offer safer display options for traditional and jar candles. Plus, worry-free alternatives like battery-operated candles have made great strides in appearance and styling in recent years. So it really is possible to enjoy candles, or the look of them, without the safety worries.

First things First — Basic Candle Safety

This almost goes without saying, but to be thorough…

The first rule of candle safety is to never leave a burning candle unattended
The second rule – do not position it near or under anything combustible, or where it can be tipped or knocked off a surface
The third rule – keep them out, out, out of the reach of children

Other factors that will minimize fire danger include trimming the wick to about 1/4″ prior to lighting, and not overburning. For more burning safety tips, see the The National Candle Association’s Safety Page

Best Bet for Safety – Go Flameless!

Battery-operated candles have come a long way in the past few years. The best styles are crafted in real wax for a realistic glow and have a flicker-style light bulb that mimics a flickering flame. Most battery-operated candles come in pillar or votive styles, including realistic drip-rim designs and even scented varieties.

See our Battery-Operated Candle Faves & Finds – and where you can get the best deals online!

The beauty of battery operated candles is that you can enjoy them wherever and whenever you want them — on the dinner or coffee table, outdoors on a windy day, on buffets or side tables, around paper decorations — and even around kids! While battery-operated candles certainly aren’t toys, they are the safest way to add ambiance without a flame to any space accessible by little hands.

The Kid-Friendliest Way to Burn Real Candles

A smart solution for burning candles safely in homes with children is to use candle sconces. Affixed to the wall and designed to keep votives, pillars and jars securely in place, candle sconces are an ideal out-of-reach solution. Do install sconces with safe placement in mind; not in a tight or highly trafficked area, and far from drapery and other combustibles. Also, if you have small children, position sconces away from furniture so they can’t reach them by climbing.


These should be secured on a pillar spike or in a cup that rises at least ½-inch. Pillar sconces often feature either a band or glass hurricane cover to further secure the candle.

Jar Candles

These should be secured in a cup that rises at least ½-inch, or have a band to secure the candle at about half its height.

Create Your Own Candle Sconce

You can create a sconce effect by placing a jar candle, votive or hurricane container on a sconce-style shelf. Attach the holder to the shelf permanently using glue, or temporarily using a removable adhesive such as Quake Hold Putty.

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