It’s the joyful season of light but joy can quickly turn to disaster with a flick of a tail. We all know the dangers of tinsel, chocolate, poisonous poinsettias, toxic lilies or pine needles, but they could all go up in smoke with the #1 holiday hazard for cats and your home: fire.
Today marks the first day of Hanukkah when menorah candles pose a threat to curious cats. Odin, whom hubby claims is Jewish, demonstrates what not to do with candles. Today is also Yule, the first day of winter when traditionally, Pagans like our Merlin, like to bask in the glow of a hearth fire. Christmas lights twinkle, attracting cats to chew on wires, pull electrical cords and paw at bulbs. Like moths to a flame, everyone loves candles from tiny votives, tall tapers or large pillars. Cheap and novelty candles tend to splutter, burn and drip unevenly. Soy-based and beeswax are safer environmentally but fire is fire. Cats can easily singe their whiskers or fur in a flame or knock over a candle with a paw or their tail.
In the U.S. from 2005-2009, an estimated 12,860 home structure fires started by candles were reported to local fire departments. These fires resulted in an estimated 136 civilian deaths, 1,041 civilian injuries and an estimated direct property loss of $471 million.
Prevent dialing 911. Be safe this year:
- Inspect old and new lights and wires.
- Don’t overload electrical outlets.
- Don’t leave indoor holiday lights when you go to bed or when you leave the house.
- Don’t leave any open flame unattended.
- Secure all tapers in candlesticks firmly.
- Place votives or pillar candles on non-flammable surfaces.
- Don’t burn gift wrap in the fireplace.
- Keep a fire extinguisher handy.
- Keep smoke detectors on every floor with fresh batteries.