Fire Safety For Jewish Observances

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The Sabbath and Jewish holidays are a time of family gatherings, celebrated with special foods, songs and customs. Many holy days and observances, as well as the weekly Sabbath, are a time for traditional cooking and candle rituals. However, without safety precautions, these customary religious observances may increase the risk for fires and fire-related injuries.

Celebrate your heritage safely with the following guidelines

PREPARING THE KITCHEN AND COOKING

Fifty percent of all apartment fires and one-quarter of the fires in private homes start in the kitchen.

Most home cooking fires involve the stovetop portion of the range. 1/3 of these fires result from unattended cooking. The majority of fires and burns can be prevented during food preparation by taking safety precautions. Follow these precautions when preparing the kitchen and cooking, especially for the Sabbath and holiday meals when there is increased activity in the kitchen:

  • Stay in the kitchen--don’t leave cooking food unattended.
  • Wear tighter or snug-fitting sleeves. (Loose sleeves are more likely to catch on fire or get caught on pot handles.) 
  • Take extra precaution when handling boiling water. 
  • Cook at indicated temperature settings, rather than higher settings. 
  • Don’t become distracted by attending to children or answering phone calls or doorbells.
  • Create a "kid-free zone" of at least three feet around your stove. 
  • Keep area clear of towels, papers or anything that could burn. 
  • Turn pot handles inward, facing the wall, to prevent burns caused by overturning or spills. 
  • Have a pot lid and container of baking soda handy to smother a pan fire. DO NOT USE WATER. 
  • Treat burns immediately with cool running water and seek medical attention.

SABBATH AND HOLIDAY CANDLE SAFETY

 More than 33 percent of candle fires occur when candles are left unattended. Half of the people killed by candle fires in the home are younger than 20 years of age, with most of the victims between the ages of five and nine. Burns and fires burns are the leading cause of death in the home for children and young adults. Holiday time means candles, matches and fire. When burning candles, make your home safer by:

  • Using sturdy candle holders, with flame-protective non-combustible (glass or metal) shades or globes.
  • Placing candles at least four feet away from curtains, draperies, blinds, kitchen cabinets and bedding.
  • Placing candles out of reach of small children and pets. 
  • Never leaving burning candles unattended. 
  • Securing hair and clothing, such as sleeves or aprons, from the flame when handling candles. 
  • Keeping candles, matches and lighters, including lit memorial containers and Chanukah menorahs, out of reach of children.

When searching for Chametz, keep candles away from bedding, tablecloths, clothing or anything that can burn. As advised by many Orthodox Rabbis, use a flashlight for hard-to-reach places.