Don’t let joy of Purim turn into tears

Party-goers urged to avoid illegal explosives, flammable costumes, and toxic make-up.

February 24, 2010 01:27
3 minute read.

purim. (photo credit: Eteacher)


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Injuries to children playing with illegal explosives and flammable costumes accidentally set on fire are 3.5 times more common before and during the Purim festival than at any other time during the year.

The 24-hour Jewish holiday – marked by festive dinners, the reading of the Book of Esther, masquerading, and the sending and receiving of gift food parcels – begins on Saturday night in most of the country and on Sunday night in Jerusalem and other ancient walled cities.

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Purim commemorates the victory of the Jews in the ancient Persian Empire over Haman, who sought to destroy them but was thwarted by Queen Esther and Mordechai.

Besides the risk of burns, spray foam landing in the eyes can cause permanent damage to the corneas, loud noises from cap guns can harm the ear drums, and cheap makeup can cause rashes or worse.

Beterem, the National Center for Child Safety and Health, reports that despite government supervision, illegal fireworks, cap pistols and other explosives are still sold in stores and kiosks. Beterem calls on the local authorities to enforce the law more strictly. In addition, toys that look like authentic weapons may not, by law, be sold. Exploding caps should not be stored in pockets, as friction can cause them to go off.

Beterem urges parents not to purchase Purim costumes that lack the markings of the Israel Standards Institution. A short costume worn close to the body is preferable to long and broad ones that can catch fire. It is best to avoid – in both handmade and store-bought costumes – inflammable material like cotton wool, carton and feathers, anything on the head or face (such as masks) that obstructs the view of traffic, or shoelaces that can lead to strangling.

The use of masks by any child under eight is not recommended; older children should not wear masks without breathing holes. Wigs, masks and other such accessories should be taken off when children are active in playgrounds.

Makeup that lacks Health Ministry approval could be toxic or cause skin reactions, and should be avoided. In addition, younger children should not have unsupervised access to treats received as Purim food parcels, as some of them – such as nuts, candies and little toys – can cause choking when improperly swallowed.

Magen David Adom reported Monday that Purim injuries have already begun. A 12-year-old boy from Kfar Saba was injured, albeit lightly, when burned on his leg after playing with explosives. An eight-year-old Jerusalem boy suffered moderate injuries to his hands and face while holding explosives, and a three-year-old Ma’aleh Adumim boy was injured in his eye while playing with a toy pistol.

If a costume is set on fire, MDA advises laying the child on the ground and rolling him in sand or earth, putting out the fire with water or smothering the flame with a wet blanket. Do not cover the victim’s head, pull burnt clothing from the skin or apply ointments. Take the victim for immediate medical treatment.

A 14-year-old boy from Ashdod, Yehonatan Ziv, was admitted to Rehovot’s Kaplan Medical Center this week with a seriously hemorrhaging finger. The injury resulted while preparing a bow and arrow with a sharp, springy knife during an outing with his parents. He needed sutures to repair a tendon and a supportive splint and is still hospitalized for rehabilitation.

His doctors urged parents to supervise preparation of handmade costumes, which could be dangerous even for older children like Yehonatan. Every toy whose sale is permitted by law must be clearly marked with warnings in Hebrew stating the name and address of the manufacturer, age restrictions and how it should be used. Never buy toys from unknown street vendors.

TEREM, the Jerusalem-based urgent care clinic chain, called on parents to be vigilant, as every year its staff treat an average of 100 injured on Purim, including those who are hurt while getting drunk. Alcohol compromises a person’s judgement; hence, he can’t follow safety rules as he normally would, said TEREM.

Meanwhile, on a happier note, 10th grade pupils at the ORT-Beit Ha’arva School in Jerusalem came to Herzog Hospital’s psychiatric department to entertain patients on Sunday. It was the third year in a row that they celebrated with the patients, playing games and conversing with them after being prepared for their encounter with them.

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