Fire Safety for Religious Celebrations

File Photo

TOMS RIVER – With Christians celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ this Sunday, and Jews commemorating Israel’s release from Egypt in the 7- to 8-day celebration of Passover, the Toms River Bureau of Fire Prevention is reminding the observant to exercise caution when using candles in their celebrations.

More than 15,000 home fires started by candles each year cause an average of 166 civilian deaths and 1,300 injuries.

“Many holy days and observances are a time for traditional candle rituals,” Bob Yaiser, Public Education Officer for the Bureau of Fire Prevention, said. “Without proper safety precautions, these customary religious observances may increase the risk for fires and fire-related injuries.”

The caution isn’t an overstatement: although such fires connected to religious celebrations are rare, The New York Times reported three Orthodox boys died in a blaze in 2005 when a burner was accidentally left on during Passover celebrations. (There were immediately available reports on related Easter fires.)

  The Bureau offers these tips to celebrants:

  • Consider battery operated candles
  • Candles should be placed in a sturdy candle holder
  • Place candles at least four feet away from curtains, blinds, kitchen cabinets and bedding.
  • Keep candles and menorahs out of reach of young children and pets
  • Never leave burning candles unattended
  • Candles placed on, or near tables, altars, or shrines, must be watched by an adult.
  • Make sure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in the home are in working order
  • If a candle must burn continuously, be sure it is enclosed in a glass container and placed in a sink, on a metal tray, or in a deep basin filled with water.
  • In the event of a fire:
  • Resist the temptation to fight the fire yourself
  • Evacuate the building immediately through your nearest exit
  • Once out safely, call 9-1-1 to report the emergency

The Toms River Bureau of Fire Prevention can be reached at 732-240-5153.