Menorahs, Dreidels, Latkes and More: Tips for a Safe Hanukkah
Don't let these 5 traditions turn into holiday hazards
If Hanukkah is your holiday, you’ll want to make sure all eight days go off without a hitch. As you celebrate the Festival of Lights, keep these safety tips in mind.
- Station your menorah on a sturdy, non-flammable surface, such as a glass-topped table or marble countertop. Gateways.org, a Jewish educational site, recommends placing it on a baking sheet, which won’t burn if a candle falls. Keep it well away from books, curtains or other objects that could easily catch fire, in a spot where it won’t be easily knocked over and where small children and pets can’t get to it.
- Keep matches away from kids.
- Don’t walk around holding a lit candle, advises Israel’s Fire and Rescue Commission (part of the country’s Ministry of Public Security).
- Never leave a lit menorah unattended. Blow out the candles when you leave the room, advises John Drengenberg consumer safety director for UL.
Related: Disaster-Proof Your Holiday Decor
This tiny top often isn’t safe for tiny tots. Anything small enough to fit inside an empty toilet paper roll is small enough to be a potential choking hazard, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). If your toddler wants to get in on the dreidel fun, offer one that’s oversized. Keep an eye on your pets too: A dreidel could get lodged in the throat of a curious puppy or kitten.
Gold-wrapped chocolate coins are the classic currency of the Hanukkah season, but small children are attracted to the sparkly discs and could easily choke on them. Gelt can be dangerous for dogs too. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, chocolate contains an ingredient called theobromine that’s toxic to dogs (and cats).
Eight nights of Hanukkah may mean eight nights of presents — and a lot of wrapping paper, ribbons and bows. Be sure to clean up the spoils completely, since children and pets can choke on small wads of paper. A length of ribbon less than eight inches long can get wrapped around a baby’s neck and strangle her, warns the AAP.
Never toss wrapping paper into the fireplace, according to Drengenberg. It can float up into your chimney and cause your home to fill with smoke.
The latkes and sufganiyot
To safely deep-fry any food, follow this advice from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
- Use a deep, heavy skillet if you don’t have a deep-fryer. Don't use cast iron, which breaks down oil faster than other metals.
- Never fill a pan more than two-thirds full with oil.
- Keep water away from hot oil. Even a few drops can splatter and cause a flare-up or burn someone’s skin.
- If hot oil catches fire, cover the pan with a lid to put it out — don’t douse it with water.
- Make the kitchen a child-free zone when you're frying. A child could easily get burned by splattering oil.
- Have a kitchen fire extinguisher close by.