Forget Christmas Tree Infernos — Makeup Mirrors Are This Season’s Fire Hazard

It’s 8 a.m. on a cold winter day, and you take one last glance in the makeup mirror before heading out the door to work. The Christmas tree has been watered, the stove is off, the thermostat is set to 68 degrees, and the curling iron is unplugged. You’re out the door, mind at ease. Who would expect the house to catch fire while you’re away because of sunlight reflected off the makeup mirror?

Kasey Ault, a professional beauty expert from Vista, California, certainly didn’t. She explained to Seventeen Magazine recently after returning home to a charred disaster on her bedroom vanity that she wants to spread the word: turn your mirror away from the window when you leave the house or you might get an unpleasant surprise when you return.

“Although that mirror had been there for weeks, my guess is that the sun hit it just right on its magnified side and somehow ignited some objects on my desk… It was probably the scariest thing I’ve ever had happen to me,” Ault said.

She shared the experience with friends on her Facebook page, adding that the whole thing made her feel completely shaken.

Believe it or not, this inadvertent Boy Scout trick is not isolated to one freakish makeup mishap. In April this year, a Fairfax County, Washington, resident was sent to the hospital following a fire that caused $1,250 in damages to their home’s master bedroom, according to WTOP. Fire and Rescue proclaimed the cause of the fire to have been the makeup mirror, which was situated on a vanity near a window and had flammable materials nearby.

Makeup mirror fire incidents occur infrequently, but often enough to be of some concern. Winter sunlight seems to be a key culprit in recently reported incidents, including one almost exactly a year ago. In this case, a $3.5 million home in the United Kingdom was set ablaze by sunlight reflected off a makeup mirror, reported the Daily Mail.

Following that incident, Caversham, Berkshire Fire Station Manager Sean Keeley, who conducted the fire investigation, said, “Cases of reflected light triggering fires in homes are rare, however, we would urge the public to be aware of the potential danger of reflective surfaces intensifying the sun’s rays. To minimise the risk of fire, please make sure reflective items such as mirrors are not placed in direct view of sunlight in the home – particularly during the winter months when the low-lying sun can shine on fixed surfaces for a prolonged period.”

Ault has advice for anybody with a bedroom vanity with a makeup mirror in view of a window.

“If any of you do your makeup in a little mirror in front of the window like I do, stash it away when you’re done,” she said on Facebook.

[Photo by David McNew/Getty Images]