When Jews around the world light Hanukkah candles, they’re playing with fire — literally.
Hot wax can cause burns, and lit candles can spark house fires if unattended. Once, my aptly named cat, Blaze, singed her tail when she flicked it too close to my menorah. It was a Hanukkah miracle that she and the house didn’t go up in flames.
Now, my family obeys the ancient commandment to publically light the menorah, but we stay safe by placing an electric one in the window.
We light candles, too. But we put them on our granite kitchen island countertop — a non-flammable surface that’s too high for our dogs to reach. (Blaze died years ago from natural, not flammable, causes.)
Another Hanukkah hazard is the hot cooking oil we use to fry traditional potato latkes and sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts). The oil can ignite and cause a kitchen fire that will wreck the holiday.
We want you have a happy Hanukkah. So, keep these safety tips in mind.
- Never leave lighted candles unattended.
- Place the menorah on a flat, fire-resistant surface (aluminum foil or stoneware platter) away from drapes, curtains, and wood cabinets.
- Keep children and pets away from lit candles. Or this can happen:
- Place electric menorahs in the window instead of lit candles. Make sure wires are not frayed.
- When cooking with hot oil, use a splatter guard and oven mitts to protect your skin from oil burns.
- To extinguish an oil cooking fire, turn off the heat and cover the pan with a lid. DO NOT douse an oil fire with water. It’s also a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher nearby.
- Keep pets away from Hanukkah treats that can make them sick, especially fatty foods and onions (latke ingredients), and chocolate Hanukkah gelt — the coins used to play the traditional dreidel game.
Ever have a Hanukkah accident?