Purim – the Jewish holiday marking the deliverance of the Jewish people in the ancient Persian Empire from destruction in the wake of a plot by the wicked Haman as told in the Book of Esther – is among the most joyous in the year. But if adults do not prevent accidents of choking on foreign objects, burns from inflammable costumes and other accidents, it could be the saddest.
The Health Ministry, Magen David Adom, Beterem, Schneider Children’s Medical Center, Laniado Medical Center in Netanya and other authorities have issued advisories on how to keep Purim – celebrated on Saturday night and Sunday in most of the country and on Sunday night and Monday in ancient walled cities – happy.
Purim food parcels send to children up to the age of seven should not include hard candies, round pieces of chewing gum, nut-filled “Haman’s ear” pastry or other small hard objects that they could choke on.
Makeup used for Purim costumes should not be used unless they have been licensed by the Health Ministry (and marked as such on the label) as safe. If not, they can cause allergic reactions that could be severe. Even if licensed, try out a bit of the cosmetics on a spot on the arm at least a day before applying them all over the face on Purim. If this results in reddening or swelling, wash the area with water and don’t use them further.
Teenagers who suffer from acne should not use Purim makeup that is oil based. Also perform a sensitivity test before using hair dye.
Costumes should be purchased only if they have been approved by the Israel Standards Institution and bear on the label its symbol. Costumes and masks prepared at home should not include flammable items such as feathers or cotton wool or long laces that can get caught around necks and cause choking. Make sure that masks do not limit vision of the wearer when worn, especially outdoors. They must also allow free breathing.
It is not recommended that children under eight wear masks at all.
Purim explosives of all types are illegal and must not be used, as they can cause severe damage to limbs and eyes.
Toys sold legally must have in Hebrew the name and address of the manufacturer and importer, how they are to be used and age limitations.
Never leave caps for toy pistols in pockets or hold them in fists or shoot into the eyes or ears, as they can explode when barely touched and cause irreversible damage.
Recently, a 13-year-old boy who held caps he found on a sidewalk in his closed fist, they exploded, causing him severe burns on his hand and abdomen.
Adults should not consume excessive amounts of alcohol and never drive when they drink. Minors should not get any alcoholic beverages at all, according to MDA. If someone loses consciousness from excessive drinking and stops drinking, perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation and call 101 immediately. Don’t leave alcoholic drinks unsupervised at parties. Schneider emergency department director Prof. Yehezkel Weisman said that every year, the number of children admitted to the emergency room increases significantly on or around Purim.
Dafna Ziv-Busani, the Petah Tikva hospital’s chief clinical dietitian, said that each Haman’s ear contains 130 to 220 calories depending on the filling. If you buy or bake them, use whole-grain flour and reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe. Prefer dried fruits, poppy seeds and carob filling to chocolate, she advised. Don’t eat all your Purim parcels on one day.