In Time For Chanukah: December Will Be OU Fire Safety Month


menorahChanukah candles are beautiful but they also present a fire risk. In recognition that the observance of Chanukah makes December a time in which Jewish homes are particularly susceptible to unwanted blazes, the Orthodox Union has announced that December once again will be OU Fire Safety Month.

The initiative is the latest aspect of the OU’s “Safe Homes, Safe Shuls, Safe Schools” program, and was instituted, according to Frank Buchweitz, OU National Director of Community Services and Special Projects, because “We want to protect our families. Chanukah presents us with the opportunity to sensitize the community to dangers associated with use of fire in many of our observances.”

The OU has posted six fire prevention guides on its website. They include:

• Chanukah Burn and Scald Prevention tips, which not only include candles, but the making of latkes as well; it advises women to be particularly careful of their sleeves and hair when lighting and blessing candles;

• Play it Safe for Chanukah, which has a variety of safety tips, including keeping a 10 lb. ABS fire extinguisher near the kitchen, away from the stove;

• Fire Safety for Jewish Observances, which among other items advises that candles should be kept at least four feet away from curtains, draperies, blinds, kitchen cabinets and bedding;

• A link to the New York City Fire Department’s fire safety information website;

• Who by Fire: Helping Burn Victims and Their Families, with a special section for Chanukah; and

• Home Safety – Ten Hot Tips to Make Your Home a No Burn Zone, including developing an emergency evacuation plan.

In addition, the OU has provided guidelines from Rabbi Hershel Schachter, OU Halachic Decisor, on Chanukah fire safety. In accordance with halachah, Rabbi Schachter declared:

“If one is not going to be home while the Chanukah candles are lit, it is better that they not be lit, but one can light later in the evening if they will be home. There should always be someone watching or near the candles. In terms of using an electric menorah, you shouldn’t say a bracha  on it, although you are able to say a bracha on electric (incandescent) lights for Shabbos and Yom Tov candles. When lighting in a hotel room, one should make sure he has half an hour to let the candles burn, and then blow them out when he has to leave.”

 {Noam Newscenter}


  1. A Groysser Yasher Koach to the OU for doing this!!

    It is well known that numerous yeshivos, Beis Yaakovs, hotels, and hospitals have regulations that people CANNOT light any candles in their rooms. For the lights of Shabbos, Yom Tov, and Chanuka, there is a specially designated large area in or near the dinning hall that is carefully controlled where everyone comes and lights.

    I heard that Rav Pam, ZT’L, says that where a yeshiva has such a Takana, if a student were to still go and light in his dormatory room against the the yeshiva’s regulations, HE IS NOT YOTZEI ANY MITZVA!!


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