As part of our Christmas concert, the Manassas Chorale uses battery-powered candles since the local fire marshals frown on the immolation of a concert hall containing up to 1100 people that would likely result if we used open flames. Last year, my electric candle literally fell apart when I went to use it and so I was the only kid without a candle during our closing song, “Silent Night.” (Sniff.) So I bought myself a better quality candle, put a couple of AA batteries in it last night, slipped it into my pocket and set off for dress rehearsal. About five minutes later, I smelled something burning and also felt a burning sensation on my leg in the location of the candle. I tried to pull it out but it was too hot to touch. I had visions of my dad’s Impala (which I drive now–someone has to) going up in a grand bonfire. I pulled over and grabbed some napkins I had in the front seat (Thank you, McDonalds) and jerked the smoking candle out of my pocket. Apparently the batteries shorted out somehow, split from the heat and burned my little leg (though not badly).
There are a couple of lessons I draw from this experience: 1) Always test your equipment beforehand in a safe environment with a fire extinguisher nearby. 2) AA batteries have more power than anyone would think and 3) Choral music is generally beneficial but can in rare cases be hazardous to your health. Be careful out there.