Keep Fire Safety In Mind When Celebrating Hanukkah This December

Flickering candles on the menorah and crispy latkes are classic elements of Hanukkah celebrations. However, candles and cooking (particularly cooking that includes frying) present potential fire hazards that can quickly turn a fun-filled holiday into a tragic one. The good news is that the likelihood of cooking and candle fires can be minimized by following simple safety precautions and guidelines.

When using a menorah that requires traditional candles, make sure it’s placed on a sturdy surface and in a location that it can’t be easily bumped into or knocked over. Also, keep the menorah at least 1 foot away from anything that can burn and monitor it carefully - all candles must be blown out when leaving the room or going to sleep.

Our candle safety tip sheet offers these and other recommendations to help reduce the risk of home candle fires; our religious candle safety tip sheet addresses fire safety tips specifically related to religious holiday activities.

If you use an electrically powered menorah, inspect the wiring carefully to ensure that it’s in good condition and remember to unplug it when leaving the home or going to sleep.

When it comes to cooking during Hanukkah, keep in mind that grease pan frying dominates the home cooking fire problem. According to our latest US home cooking fires report, which reflects annual averages between 2014 and 2018, cooking oil, fat, grease, and related substances were first ignited in half (52 percent) of the home cooking fires that began with cooking materials. Almost three-fifths (58 percent) of the civilian deaths and three-quarters of the civilian injuries (76 percent) and direct property damage (77 percent) associated with cooking material or food ignition resulted from these cooking oil or grease fires.

Follow these safety considerations when cooking with oil:

  • Monitor what’s frying on the stovetop carefully – never leave frying food unattended.
  • If you see wisps of smoke or the oil smells, immediately turn off the burner and/or carefully remove the pan from the burner. Smoke is a danger sign that the oil is too hot.
  • Heat the oil slowly to the temperature you need for frying.
  • Add food gently to the pan so the oil does not splatter.
  • Always cook with a lid beside your pan. If you have a fire, slide the lid over the pan and turn off the burner. Do not remove the cover because the fire could start again. Let the pan cool for a long time. Never throw water on the fire.
  • If the fire does not go out or you don’t feel comfortable sliding a lid over the pan, get everyone out of your home. Call the fire department from outside.

Visit our cooking safety page for more cooking safety tips and information. Check out our winter holiday safety page for additional statistics, resources, and recommendations on safely celebrating all season long.

Sign up for the NFPA Network Newsletter
Susan McKelvey
Communications Manager

Related Articles