I founded Safety Awareness Day, an event created after a tragic fire in the Jewish community. We educate the public about fire safety, and general household safety, which are matters I care about deeply. Truth be told, my heart skipped a beat at the thought of lighting Chanukah candles Tuesday night. However, knowledge is power, and tragedies are often times preventable. Don’t let me fool you though: I’m not perfect when it comes to all things safety related, and you don’t have to be either. We’re not looking for perfection. The first step is awareness. When you light those beautiful Chanukah candles, and as the menorah fills with additional dancing flames each night, let’s do our best to keep our families, pets and houses safe.
Tip #1: Be mindful of flammable materials around your menorah.
According to the FDNY, candles should be at least 4 ft. away from flammable materials. I know I loved scoping out the menorahs in my neighborhood, and the mitzvah is to light it where it can be seen, but watch out for your drapes and blinds!
Tip #2: Create a safe, menorah-friendly environment.
Candle lighting takes place at an often chaotic time at home. Dinner time, homework time, meltdown time, unfortunately can all pose dangers. Just tonight we had to move our daughter away from the table housing the menorahs because she was mid tantrum and was inching just too close. Did your little one get a little too excited about their Chanukah gift? Jumping, ball throwing, running, and dancing can cause accidental tip-overs.
Tip #3: Talk to your kids about menorah-friendly behavior.
Talk to your kids about what their behavior should look like around the lit menorah. Set up ground rules for what’s allowed and not allowed, and discuss the consequences should the rules be broken and remain committed! Safety should not be taken lightly and remember, many tragedies are preventable.
Tip #4: Never leave your candles unattended.
If using oil, it is likely your candles will last for well over the usual 30 minutes that a wax candle typically does. Please be responsible, and never leave your candles unattended. Try to remain in close proximity to the room where your candles are lit in case of an emergency. Definitely do not leave the house while the candles remain lit!
Tip #5: Have working smoke alarms.
Accidents happen, and that’s ok. We do the best we can, so please make sure your smoke alarms are working! According the U.S. Fire Association, smoke alarms should be tested to make sure they’re working once a month, and smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years.
Make your Chanukah the best it can be, be safe this Chanukah season!