Lag Ba’omer is one of the more dangerous holidays in the Jewish calendar.
Children celebrating around the traditional bonfires lit by Jews across the
country tend to get too close to the fire, and can get hurt by sparks, nails,
scorpions and other animals or other dangers at bonfires around the
Smoke inhalation poses a risk to people of all ages.
Ba’omer celebrations, which put on pause the semimourning period traditionally
associated with the period between Passover and Shavuot to commemorate the
deaths of Rabbi Akiva’s 24,000 pupils in the first century CE, mark the death
and legacy of the great mystic Rabbi Shimon Bar- Yochai.
festivities will be riskier than usual: The holiday falls on Saturday night and
Sunday, the rabbinate has postponed celebrations to Sunday night and Monday to
prevent the Sabbath from being desecrated.
Practically speaking, this
means that bonfires will blaze from Saturday night until Monday – with some even
as early as Thursday night.
Tens of thousands of pilgrims are expected to
flock to Meron near Safed in the North to celebrate around Bar-Yochai’s tomb,
but Israelis will gather around bonfires across the country. The Fire and Rescue
Services (dial 102 for emergencies) intends to deploy firetrucks to spots where
they will be most needed — ultra- Orthodox communities in particular — to
prevent the outbreak of uncontrolled flames.
Magen David Adom said it
plans to be on its highest alert level (Level 3) during the holiday.
emergency services group will operate a control center on Mount Meron, which
will include two mobile first aid clinics.
In Meron alone, 150
paramedics, medics and volunteers in mobile intensive care units and ambulances
will be ready for emergencies. Last year, MDA treated more than 200 celebrants
at the site for burns, falls from heights, drunkenness and injuries from
MDA advises the public to drink a lot of water, wear protective
clothing and apply sunscreen — temperatures on the holiday are expected to be
high. People with chronic illnesses who plan to travel should remember to bring
Food should be stored in coolers, under hygienic
Spray cans or alcohol should never be thrown into fires.
Drive carefully in the expected heavy traffic. Do not leave children
unsupervised anywhere, including in locked vehicles – for even a
MDA noted that every year, children climbing trees to (illegally)
cut branches for bonfires sustain broken bones and other injuries.
a person’s clothing catch on fire, roll him on earth, cover him (but not his
head) with a wet blanket or towel or douse him with water. Do not remove burnt
clothing that has stuck to his skin. Instead, place sterile (or at least) wet
compresses on the burnt skin and immediately dial 101. If a spark enters the
eye, rinse it well with running water. Wear long-sleeved garments and high-top
As the smoke will probably be fierce this year, pregnant women and
people who suffer from chronic diseases should stay indoors.
result from children stepping on burning branches and planks, says Beterem, the
National Council for Child Safety and Health. Combustible material should be
collected carefully and set up far from living trees, grass, bushes, utility
lines and anything else that could ignite.
When bonfires are over, always
douse the remains with water and stir the wet ashes well to prevent them from
Always take a first-aid kit with you to a bonfire. Be careful
when eating hot roasted potatoes and onions because they can cause serious burns
in the mouth.
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