Sufganiot (Hanukka donuts).
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Hanukka, which this year begins on Saturday night, is one of the year’s happiest holidays. But the eight-day Jewish festival of lights can bring sadness when it causes accidents, injuries or death.
It also keeps Magen David Adom busy, as every year its medics have to treat victims of burns from hot oil, fires and inhaling of foreign objects, including tiny spinning tops and even choking on doughnuts and foil-covered chocolate coins. There is a clear rise in such cases during the festival, MDA said.
Last year, for example, MDA paramedics were called in to save a 76-year-old woman in a geriatric nursing home who choked on a doughnut and died despite efforts to resuscitate her.
In another case, a 73-year-old woman was burned by untended Hanukka candles in the Eilat hotel where she was staying.
MDA urges parents to watch their young children carefully during celebrations.
Older adults should also be careful. Kindergarten or school teachers who supervise candle lighting should also take care that flammable objects such as curtains and paper do not get close to the flames.
Be especially careful to keep long hair far from burning candles.
As they can remain alight for an hour or more, candles should not be left untended after they are lit. Also keep matches and lighters away from children. Children under 14 should not be allowed to light candles without adult supervision, MDA said.
Make sure that the hanukkia (menorah) is steady, on a flat surface, placed out of the way of children and not on a tablecloth or mat. Never walk with a lighted hanukkia or expose it to wind.
In the event of a person catching fire, roll him on the ground or use a wet blanket to smother the flames and call MDA at 101. If the victim has serious burns, take off the victim’s clothing and use a lot of lukewarm running water to cool the skin.
Never use ice, cold water or creams.
To prevent harm from hot oil while frying, use the back burners and constantly keep an eye on children. Position the handle of the frying pan in the back so it is not grabbed and turned over. If the oil is set afire, cover it with a wet towel; do not pour water over it.
Do not heat jelly doughnuts or potato pancakes in a microwave; they can become extremely hot and cause burns.
Doughnuts should be cut into small pieces before young children or anyone with swallowing problems – such as the elderly – eat them.
Keep small spinning tops and chocolate coins away from children under the age of five, MDA said.
There are also dietary dangers during the extended festival. Dafna Ziv Bosani, a clinical dietitian at Schneider Children’s Hospital in Petah Tikva, said that an ordinary doughnut contains 350 to 450 calories, depending on size and filling. She recommended making or buying mini-doughnuts, or sharing one, instead of eating large ones.
Each fried potato pancake has the caloric equivalent of two or two-and-a-half slices of bread, 150 to 200 calories. Bosani advised to add vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, beets or squash to the mixture to cut the calories, and to bake them instead of frying them in oil.