The Fire Service, Magen David Adom (MDA) and hospital emergency rooms are on alert for Lag Ba'omer, the holiday marking the death of kabbalist and traditional author of the Zohar, Rabbi Shimon Bar-Yohai, and the cessation of deaths among the pupils of Rabbi Akiva two millennia ago.
The holiday, the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer between Pessah and Shavuot, falls on Monday night and Tuesday. It will be marked by bonfires around the country and an event to be attended by hundreds of thousands at Bar-Yohai's burial site on Mount Meron.
MDA urges parents and teachers to take special care to prevent injuries. Accidental burns are twice as common during the week leading up to Lag Ba'omer as any other time during the year.
Only recently, a number of older teenagers pushed a younger boy into a bonfire as a "joke." His clothes were set afire and he suffered second-degree burns on his leg, causing him serious pain. Rushed to the hospital, the victim was found to suffer from an infection, requiring intravenous antibiotics and plastic surgery with skin transplants later.
Staffers of Kupat Holim Meuhedet and volunteers from the Hatzala organization will be on duty at Mount Meron throughout the festivities to deal with accidents and heat prostration. Their first-aid center will be run there by heath fund doctors, nurses and medics for the third year in a row.
MDA urges parents to ensure that bonfires are not close to trees, electricity or phone lines and other flammable objects. Stones should be set around the bonfire to prevent the fire from spreading.
A responsible older teenager or adult should be appointed to take charge of the bonfire and ensure safety. Do not throw any flammable material such as gas canisters or gasoline into the fire. Wear high-top shoes and long trousers to prevent bites from scorpions and snakes that are attracted by the heat of the fire. Ensure that the fire is fully extinguished with water after the bonfire is ended. Keep two pails of water ready in advance.
If someone is set afire, cover his body (but not his face) with a wet blanket or towel or roll him in earth or sand on the ground. Call MDA at 101 immediately. Do not remove burnt skin or apply creams. If a spark enters the eye, wash it thoroughly with a lot of cold water.
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