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Past Articles:
OIL, FIRE, AND THE WORKS: THE SHAATRA MOTHER’S ROLE





Imagine if the Hanukah miracle involved something other than oil, like spinach leaves or tambourines. We’d have such a different holiday, would we not? But no – one teeny flask supplied the Children of Israel with enough oil to last for eight whole days, which, for us, means eight days of menorah-lighting and
donut-eating. As Shaatra Moms, it’s our job to make sure all Hanukah proceedings proceed smoothly and safely. Especially important on this festival of lights is abiding by these basic fire-safety precautions.

Candle with Care    

It’s that time of year again – when your family gathers together in the warmth of your home to kindle the flames of the menorah and commemorate the miracles Hashem performed for us on Hanukah. And, boy is it that time of year again, when your heart races and your head spins like a dreidel for every minute those Hanukah flames flicker with boisterous little ones nearby, doing somersaults off the living room couch! Be sure that menorah of yours – whether tall, short, ornate, plain, ceramic or silver or neither –rests on a sturdy surface. Cover the surface with a large aluminum foil sheet or metal tray. Tamper a bit with the thin menorah branches to check for looseness. Rickety menorahs are serious business once the candles are lit.

Now, we are commanded to light those candles beside a window or door. Since the more popular option is lighting by a window, it is ultra-important to remember that curtains (or any flammable materials, for that matter) must be far, far away from that menorah. Oh, one last menorah safety measure: Never, ever leave candles unattended once they are lit. Not even for one second!

One, Two, Three, Fry!

Adieu, diet. Hello, donuts and latkes and oil and bulge. As the scrumptious splitter splatters of your fryer echo around your kitchen, keep in mind some pertinent kitchen safety musts. As always, tuck those frying pan handles inward. That way, they’re out of reach from the miniature people at home, and you won’t accidentally bump into them, causing harmful spills. Ouch! On the same note, keep frying pans on the back burners of your stove top and away from countertop edges. 

Deep frying is a very deep subject – you learn how oil can be so, so loud and splattery! (Don’t look that word up in the dictionary; I coined it myself.) Stand clear of the pan and keep your lower arms covered to avoid contact with the burning oil. Also, although the fried stuff tastes best straight out of the fryer, test your family’s patience, and let it cool off before serving. Fried food fans, beware of one last thing – be sure that dish towels and other flammable materials are nowhere near the oven range. And, with that, you can sink your teeth into that heavenly donut with gusto!

Playing it Safe   

There are a bunch of general fire safety tidbits that are apropos to mention as we approach the Festival of Lights. First and foremost, test all smoke alarms regularly. Be wary of suspicious smells, leaky liquids in the oven, and the like. Roll up long or flowing sleeves and remove clothing ornaments that can get in fire’s way. (Bulky dress scarf around your neck? Trendy, maybe, but it’s got to go, until you’re through with puttering around in the kitchen.) And by the way, red is totally in when it comes to kitchen decor – red as in fire extinguishers, that is, which are a must in the kitchen (and in other major rooms at home, too). Keep a basic first aid kit handy at home. Hashem is watching over you, of course, but you’ve got to do your due diligence.

An Ounce of Prevention

In general, it’s important to instill in your children the seriousness of fire. Fire is not a joke, and they need to know to never play with fire. They need to understand that they cannot play wildly around the menorah or the oven. The best way to guide them properly (besides for direct instruction) is to be a good role model. Sorry pyromaniacs, there is just no room for any shenanigans at home!

Wishing you and your family a warm, happy and
healthy Hanukah!