Chanukah and Kwanzaa are two beautiful holidays. Both are about celebrating the roots of one’s heritage and finding the line between assimilation into the majority and cultural independence. Both are celebrated by candles. Both are celebrated with family.

Candles and family can be hazardous, though. Here are some safety tips for these two holidays. Some tips will be for candles, other will be for the traditionally fried foods of Chanukah, finally, one will be some general heat and burn tips.

Candle Safety

Whether you’re lighting a hanukiah (Chanukah menorah) or a kinara (the Kwanzaa candelabrum), you are literally bringing open flames into your house. Open flames, as we all know, can be incredibly dangerous. These are some basic safety guidelines

  • Place your hanukiah or kinara on a flat, fire resistant surface. Stoneware is good, as is a metal tray or even
    aluminum foil over a counter.
  • Be aware of your surroundings: make sure your candles are not under curtains or drapes, are clear of flammable objects, and that they aren’t in an area where they can easily be knocked over.
  • Never leave lit candles unattended — there are religious exceptions to extinguish flames for safety if you need to leave.
  • Keep pets away from lit candles.
  • Only allow children near candles with supervision, such as during lighting and prayers.
  • In some cases, electric candles are a viable alternative. Make sure there are no frayed wires.
  • Do not walk around with lit candles.
  • Only place candles in the non-flammable hanukia or kinara, don’t use improvised materials.
  • Be careful of hot wax.

Food (and Frying) Safety

Chanukah’s candles represent the time oil for one day lasted an entire eight — the time required to press more oil from olives in ancient times. As such, many traditional foods such as latkes and sufganiyot (potato pancakes and jelly filled doughnuts) are specifically made because of their connection to the oil.

Here are some basic tips to keep safe and injury free

  • Be careful when grating or chopping by hand.
  • Keep onions (and garlic) away from pets.
  • Be mindful of long sleeves and hanging clothes when near oil or reaching across it.
  • Use long-handled spatulas and spoons when preparing food
  • In case of an oil fire, turn off the heat and cover with a lid. Do not use water on an oil fire!
  • Use a splatter guard and oven mitts to protect from small oil burns.

General heat and burn safety

This brings us to the final part of our article, and the one its writer, Eddie, knows most about. He’s had his share of burns from his fire dancing days, though nothing too severe. He did work as safety for a couple “incidents” though. Luckily they all turned out fine, in no small part to him, so pay attention!

  • Move an injured person away from any flames or heat sources.
  • Smother any fires that occur on clothing, either with a towel or by rolling on the ground.
  • Do not pull off clothing that has stuck to injured skin. Many synthetic fabrics will melt when burn. If the skin under has been compromised with a severe burn and the clothing is stuck to it, just cut the clothing around the injured area then seek treatment.
  • Rinse any burns in tepid or lukewarm water for a few minutes. Do not use ice, cold water, or any ointments, creams, or lotions.
  • Check the batteries of your smoke detector.
  • Make sure you have an AB or ABC fire extinguisher available. We recommend keeping one outside the kitchen, as flames from cooking can prevent you from reaching it if kept in the kitchen.

Be safe, everyone. This is a wonderful time of the year to celebrate with family, friends, and loved ones. Whether you’re celebrating the cultural backbone of your African roots or the victories over societies that would have you change, do it with the kind of joy that you deserve.

We at the Bow Tie Financial Group wish you the deepest blessings for your holidays.

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