Hackney residents enjoying the Jewish festival of the Sukkot have been encouraged not to use candles and to avoid placing sukkahs on balconies to help keep their families and their neighbours safe through this year’s celebrations.

The week-long festival, which begins this Friday (2 October), is traditionally celebrated by building a temporary outdoor hut called a sukkah. With outdoor space limited for many families in Hackney, those celebrating are being asked to take simple precautions to avoid risk from fire and ensure the festivities can be enjoyed safely.

How to have a safe Sukkot

1. Get permission – you should get permission from your landlord or building manager before fixing your sukkot to the ground or a building if this will leave permanent marking or damage. Try to use temporary fixings like cable ties, or ground pegs if on soft ground. If you live in a Council home, contact the neighbourhoods team on 020 8356 3330 or neighbourhood@hackney.gov.uk

2. Choose the right materials – a sukkah can be made of different types of materials. Pick something that doesn’t burn easily, like fire-retardant plywood, rather than flammable items like cotton sheets or dry straw.

3. Pick the correct spot – sukkahs should not be built on balconies, and wherever possible should be placed away from buildings, fences and flammable structures. They should also not be placed in the way of or close to escape routes such as communal walkways.

4.Think about decorations – use materials that are fire retardant, and avoid using candles and oil lamps. Try LED candles instead. 

5. Electrical safety – LED lights are the best way to light your sukkah as they pose less fire risk. If you need to use electric cables, make sure they are in good working order and don’t create a trip hazard, and avoid ‘daisy-chaining’ cables by linking them together.

6. Be a good neighbour – many of us are spending more time at home due to the pandemic. Try to be understanding to your neighbours and keep noise to a minimum.

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