Purim celebrations in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The scariest thing about Purim this year might be your costume.
Safety experts have reiterated their annual warnings on avoiding accidents this year on the holiday – marked Wednesday night and Thursday in most of the country and Thursday night and Friday in ancient walled cities such as Jerusalem, Tiberias and Jaffa. The joyful holiday commemorates the saving of the Jewish people from Haman, who was planning to kill all the Jews in the Persian Empire in the fifth century BCE. It is celebrated by reading the Book of Esther, giving charity to the poor, sending food parcels to friends and relatives – and wearing costumes.
The Israel Institute for Occupational Safety and Hygiene, and Beterem – The Israel Center for Child Safety and Health, warned that costumes and accessories may pose serious dangers.
They warned against firing noisemaking objects near the ears and eyes. Never keep caps in a pocket, because rubbing them can cause them to explode. Do not wear costumes made of combustible synthetic cloth, paper, carton, cotton wool, feathers or plastic sheets or allow young children to have access to fire or matches. Buy only costumes whose packages contain the mark of the Israel Standards Institution. Those bought via the Internet must meet the approval of standards institutions in Europe, the US and other Western countries.
Every Purim, some children lose fingers, suffer burns and hurt their eyes due to carelessness.
Masks and costumes should not limit the wearers’ field of vision or nose so they can breathe properly and cross the street safely. Simple costumes rather than those that limit movement should be preferred, while those including oversized and unlaced shoes should be avoided. Children under the age of eight should not wear masks at all. As for makeup, only products with a seal of approval from the Health Ministry for being non-allergenic should be used on skin. “Swords,” “knives” and other weapons should be made only of soft plastic that does not injure anyone. Keep children away from bows and arrows.
Fire extinguishers and first-aid kits should be present and visible at Purim celebrations. Food parcels meant for small children should not contain nuts, small candies or anything else that can cause choking. Avoid excessive use of alcohol, and those who drive should not drink anything more than a sip.
Ziv Hospital in Safed said that every year, its medical teams have to treat children and even adults suffering from damage due to Purim accidents. Dr.
Khassis Shoukri, a senior plastic surgeon, said that children must be able to breathe easily through masks. Wigs should have short hair so they do not catch fire. Do not use spray foams or snow; if you do, at least prevent them entering the eyes, where they can cause serious damage, he said.
Adina Ben-Aharon, head of the nutrition and diet unit at Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba, said that unwanted calories pile up during the holiday. Choose simple hamentashen with date or carob filling rather than chocolate and with filo dough rather than those full of margarine or butter.
Prefer small portions.
Calorie-heavy Passover is, after all, just a month away.