AN ULTRA-ORTHODOX BOY stands atop a pile of wood prepared for a Lag Ba’omer bonfire in Ashdod.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Fire and Rescue Service (102), Magen David Adom (101) and hospital emergency rooms are preparing for dealing with mishaps related to Lag Ba’omer, the Jewish semi-holiday celebrated on the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer, that occurs on the 18th day of the Hebrew month of Iyar or this Wednesday night and Thursday.
Marked by bonfires and pilgrimages to Meron in the North, it marks the anniversary of the death of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, a Mishnaic sage, mystic and leading disciple of Rabbi Akiva in the second century CE.
MDA said that its paramedics and medics will be on duty not only all over the country, but also at the sage’s burial site, where hundreds of thousands of people are expected to congregate. During the event, MDA will run a special control center for coordinating treatment at two clinics, one at the Meron yeshiva and the other at the foot of the mount.
A large number of mobile intensive care units, ambulances, catastrophe units and other rescue vehicles will be on duty there and on roads leading to Meron.
At last year’s celebration, MDA treated some 170 people who suffered dehydration, drank too much alcohol, were injured or suffered from other medical problems.
The Health and Environmental Protection ministries issued recommendations to prevent accidents and unnecessary pollution. The hospitals reported an increase in the last decade of injuries to children and others on Lag Ba’omer. Health Minister MK Ya’acov Litzman urged parents to be present at all bonfires and take responsibility to prevent participants from getting hurt.
Bonfires should be constructed from unpainted and non-lacquered wooden planks that are completely free of nails or sharp edges. Do not steal them from building sites and other dangerous places. The bonfire should be located in an area far from combustible objects, including trees and electricity and phone wires, and permanent structures.
Make a border with rocks to set boundaries beyond which children may not pass. Sparks can cause clothing to be set alight, so all must keep their distance.
Take along a cellphone to call the fire authorities or MDA, if necessary, and take with you a first-aid kit and buckets of water and sand to douse the fire thoroughly. Don’t leave children alone for even a moment; a responsible adult must always be present. Do not bring along flammable liquids or spray cans that could reach the fire and explode.
Do not throw plastics or synthetic wood furniture such as MDF into the fire, as when they burn, they produce toxic gas.
Potatoes, onions and other food should be placed in the fire on skewers.
It’s better to have communal bonfires rather than a single one for each family because this just increases air pollution.
If someone has caught fire, lay him on the ground. Don’t let him run, as the fire will only spread.
Roll him on the ground or cover with a wet blanket, without covering the head. Do not pull off clothing that has become stuck to a skin burn. Cool the victim’s skin with water immediately. Do not apply creams. If a spark enters the eye, wash it with a lot of cold water.
At the end of the bonfire, mix the embers with water and/or sand until they are completely extinguished.
Wait for at least 15 minutes before leaving the sight, as the embers could reignite.