Buying and using products that constitute a fire hazard

Consumer products that constitute a fire hazard are safe only when used for suitable purposes and in accordance with their operating instructions. Using these products against the operating instructions will always increase the risk of fire/burn. Products that constitute a fire hazard include, for example, candles, outdoor candles, ventless fireplaces and sky lanterns. Consider fire safety already when you are buying these products and always use the products in accordance with their operating instructions.

Candle products

Candle lantern

  • A good lantern is sufficiently large.
  • Lanterns that are low and open at the top are safer than closed, low-volume lanterns.
  • The temperature inside a closed-type lantern that is too small can rise so high that it results in a flare-up.
  • Practical tests have shown that the volume of the container must be at least about one litre.
  • Only use candles that are of suitable size and comply with the lantern's instructions.

Candlesticks, drip catchers and decorations

  • A good candlestick is stable and made of non-combustible material.
  • The cup of wooden candlesticks must be made of non-combustible material.
  • Drip catchers and decorations are dangerous unless they are made of non-combustible material.
  • If you use drip catchers, remember to extinguish the flame on time. Never burn a candle all the way down.

Tealight candles

  • Burn tealight candles only on a non-combustible surface!
  • Leave at least 5 cm between tealight candles because otherwise the tealights will heat each other, which can result in dangerously high temperatures.
  • Do not move a burning tealight candle or leave a match on it because this can cause the molten wax to flare up.

Gel candles and do-it-yourself candle wax materials

Gel candles are in contact with their glass containers. The risks are overheating, flare-up and braking of the glass container. The risks are reduced if the surface area of the container is sufficiently large and the walls are sufficiently thick. Gel candles that are made using thin-walled long-stem glasses that look like champagne glass can be dangerous.

If you make candles using gel or candle wax materials, check that the package includes instructions.

Outdoor candles and garden flares

  • Never burn an outdoor candle in a balcony, porch or under any kind of roof to prevent the flame from igniting the surrounding structures by accident.
  • Outdoor candles must be placed in a non-combustible container or holder, or placed securely in snow or sand so that wind cannot move the lightened container close to a hedge or other combustible material.
  • It is advisable to leave a minimum distance of 1 to 3 metres between each outdoor candle and fence or other structures or passages.
  • Swedish torches must be placed farther away, up to 10 metres from the closest structure.
  • Never leave outdoor candles unattended.
  • If it starts to rain, it is advisable to extinguish the flame because rain can cause the hot candle wax to splatter.
  • If you are going to move an outdoor candle, extinguish it first.

Grave, oil and garden candles intended for outdoor use

  • Never burn candles intended for outdoor use indoors or in a balcony!
  • Burn these candles only on a non-combustible surface, even if they are placed outside!
  • Be careful not to touch the metal lid of the candle – it can be hot!
  • Do not put a match inside a grave candle because it increases the risk of a flare-up.

Oil lanterns and pressure lamps intended for indoor use

  • The instructions must specify what type of oil may be used in the lantern or lamp.
  • If the lantern or lamp is sold with the wick uninstalled, the instructions must specify how the wick is installed correctly.
  • Lamp oils are dangerous chemicals, and detailed provisions on their classification, markings and packaging are given in the chemicals legislation. Lamp oils are dangerous if ingested.
  • If an oil lantern or pressure lamp tips over and the surrounding area catches fire, it must be extinguished by smothering. Trying to extinguish the fire with water is dangerous.

Lighters and matches

It is estimated that every year a total of 1,500 to 1,900 accidents and 34 to 40 fatal accidents take place in the EU due to fires caused by children playing with lighters. A lighter is considered to be child-resistant if the lighter is designed and manufactured in such a way that it cannot, under normal or reasonably foreseeable conditions of use, be operated by children younger than 4 years of age.

Also lighters that resemble other objects recognised as appealing by children are banned. These include, but are not limited to, lighters the shape of which resemble

  • cartoon characters
  • toys
  • guns
  • watches
  • telephones
  • musical instruments
  • vehicles
  • human body or parts of the human body
  • animals
  • food or beverages, or
  • that play musical notes, or
  • have flashing lights
  • have moving objects or other entertaining features.


Matches

Feedback from the consumers indicated that matches ignite poorly and break when struck, among other problems. It was also reported that ignited match heads have come off, potentially causing damage to the consumers or their property. However, no significant safety deficiencies have been found in the tests performed by the importers and authorities but the matches have met the applicable safety requirements.

Match importers, commissioners and sellers are responsible for ensuring that the matches comply with the applicable safety requirements and that the matches do not pose a danger to consumers. Matchboxes must also carry all markings that are important for safety, in Finnish and Swedish, including the instruction to keep the matches out of the reach of children.

The consumers can themselves improve the safety of matches by igniting them correctly. The correct way to strike a match is to apply only a little pressure and strike away from the direction of your body – not by hitting the match hard against the box.

Matches must be kept out of the reach of children, in a dry place indoors. Being a natural material, wood is sensitive to variations in humidity and therefore high variations in temperature can have an impact on the properties of matches.

 

Disposable barbecues

The use of disposable barbecues has increased because they are compact, easy to use and affordable. The waste these barbecues generate is difficult to dispose, and they pose a serious fire and burn hazard. Dry ground increases the fire hazard.

The most important factor contributing to the safety of disposable barbecues is the person using the barbecue.

Instructions for safe use of disposable barbecues:

  • Read and follow the instructions included with the disposable barbecue.
  • Never use the barbecue indoors!
  • Use the disposable barbecue only on a non-combustible surface. The bottom of the barbecue gets very hot and therefore poses a fire hazard.
  • Always use the stand included with the barbecue. Install the stand in accordance with the instructions provided. The bottom of the barbecue must be several centimetres above the surface (ground).
  • The disposable barbecue gets very hot. Do not move the barbecue during use.
  • Supervise the barbecue until it has cooled down completely to prevent children and pets from touching the hot barbecue and to prevent combustible material from getting in the barbecue due to, for example, wind.
  • Make sure that the barbecue is fully extinguished by pouring plenty of water or sand onto the barbecue so that the charcoal is completely covered.
  • Put the disposable barbecue in the rubbish bin only after making sure that the contents of the barbecue has cooled down completely. Cooling can take several hours.

In case of a public event where the organiser has arranged a metal container for collecting used disposable barbecues, take your barbecue to the container after use in accordance with the instructions provided. Cool the barbecue down before taking it to the container to avoid fire. It is advisable to arrange water in, for example, watering cans for this purpose in public events.

The use of disposable barbecues has been restricted by the Rescue Act that entered into force on 1 July 2011. In the Act, disposable barbecues are classified as open fire, and they may not be used on municipal land or someone else's land without the landowner's permission.

 

Ventless fireplaces

Ventless fireplaces (also known as, for example, (bio)ethanol fireplaces) must comply with the general safety requirements of the Consumer Safety Act, i.e. they may not pose a danger to consumers' health or property when used.

The manufacturers, importers and sellers of ventless fireplaces are responsible for ensuring that their products are safe, bear the required warning markings, and are accompanied by appropriate installation and operating instructions that are provided in Finnish and Swedish and that include illustrative figures facilitating safe installation, especially for wall-mounted models. The fireplace must be installed in a suitable location in accordance with the instructions provided. The fireplace must be supervised during use, and special attention must be paid when extinguishing the fire to ensure that it is done correctly.

Installation

  • Place the fireplace far enough from combustible materials, such as curtains and other interior textiles.
  • Never place combustible materials above the fireplace.
  • When installing the fireplace, always follow the instructions on the minimum floor area (m²) or minimum volume (m³) of the room.
  • Takan asennuksen yhteydessä takan taakse tulee sijoittaa riittävän suurikokoinen palosuojalevy, ellei seinän rakennusmateriaali ole jo ennestään palamatonta materiaalia. Tämä koskee myös niin sanottuja lattiamalleja.

Fuel

  • Use only fuel suitable for the ventless fireplace in question.
  • Follow the instructions on storing and using the fuel. Sufficiently detailed instructions must be provided in both the operating instructions of the fireplace and the fuel container.
  • A maximum of 25 litres of flammable substances is allowed to be stored at home.
  • Bioethanol is flammable and must be stored in a place that is safe in terms of fire safety.

Using the fireplace

  • Never leave the fireplace unattended during use.
  • Supervise the fireplace to prevent children and pets from touching it.
  • Never use water or other liquid for extinguishing the fire due to the risk of splattering.
  • Use a dedicated extinguishing tool for extinguishing the fireplace.
  • Never place other combustible material than fuel in the fireplace.
  • Keep first extinguishing equipment near the fireplace.
  • Vent the room carefully after using the fireplace.

A free-standing ventless fireplace must be sufficiently stable so that it does not tip over if it is, for example, pushed or bumped into. This can be ensured by equipping the fireplace with suitable hardware for securing it to a wall or floor.

 

Sky lanterns

Sky lanterns are lanterns that fly freely with wind and are equipped with a candle or similar flame source. As they are flying freely, they pose a serious fire hazard because it is almost impossible to make sure that they do not come into contact with combustible materials. Due to their lightweight structure, lanterns can travel with wind and air currents against buildings or trees. Such sky lanterns that contain open fire are considered to be hazardous within the meaning of section 10 of the Consumer Safety Act. Dangerous sky lanterns must not be placed on the market.

 

Avoid fire

A fire is easier to prevent than extinguish!

  • Remember that the last person leaving the room must extinguish candles. Make sure to extinguish candles every time you leave the room.
  • Keep matches and tealight candles out of the reach of children.
  • Never leave a child or pet alone with a burning candle, even for a moment.
  • Warn children of the consequences of playing with candles or matches.
  • Check the operation of your smoke alarms monthly by pressing the test button. Only a smoke alarm with a working battery will sound.
  • Smoke alarm is a mandatory device and it should be mounted on the ceiling.
  • Be prepared to extinguish a fire! Always keep a fire blanket or portable fire extinguisher at hand.
  • Failing that, you can use a thick blanket or mat to extinguish the fire.
  • Plan in advance how and with what you will extinguish the fire.
  • Plan in advance what you are going to do and what escape route you should use in case of fire.
  • Also teach children what to do in case of fire.
  • Call the emergency number 112 and report the fire.

In case of fire

  • rescue the people in danger
  • extinguish the starting fire if you can
  • leave the premises, close all doors behind you and warn others
  • if there is smoke in the room, crawl as there is less smoke near the floor
  • use stairs to get out
  • do not use lift because you could get stuck
  • call the emergency number 112 but only when you are in a safe place
  • guide the fire brigade to the scene and organise a clear passage for them
  • go to the designated assembly area.

Further information:

You can contact Tukes if you have bought a product that constitutes a fire hazard and you suspect that the product is dangerous or has a safety deficiency.

Frequently asked questions