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As Magen David Adom and other organizations issue guidelines on how to remain safe during Saturday night’s Lag Ba’omer celebrations, the ZAKA rescue and recovery organization has launched a safety campaign in anticipation of tens of thousands converging on Mount Meron, near Safed.
The holiday, on the 33rd day after the beginning of Pessah, marks the end of the plague that decimated Rabbi Akiva’s students two millennia ago, and the anniversary of the death of Rabbi Shimon Bar-Yohai – Akiva’s student and the author of the mystical work, the Zohar. Bar-Yohai is buried on Mount Meron.
ZAKA, in cooperation with other voluntary groups, is preparing to reunite lost children with their parents, prevent road accidents caused by fatigue, and help people avoid burns and injuries.
ZAKA notes that every year, the festivities are marred by fatal and serious road accidents, usually the result of tiredness, as drivers take to the wheel after sleepless nights, as well as injuries caused by burns from the many bonfires.
In addition, children – many of whom are boys who have come to the site to get their first haircut at the age of three – are often separated in the hubbub from their parents, resulting in unnecessary trauma.
A two-room center to be located, starting Friday, in a central place near the tomb will serve as waiting area where children can stay until their parents arrive. Tens of thousands of children’s identification wristbands bearing their names and parents’ contact numbers will be distributed.
Meanwhile, a survey by Beterem, the national center for child safety and health, found that 60 percent of parents are not concerned whether an adult will supervise Lag Ba’omer bonfires attended by their children. The lack of such supervision is one reason that the number of burn victims reaching hospital emergency rooms on Lag Ba’omer is three times that of a regular day.
Secular parents are much less likely to supervise their children’s bonfires than haredim, the survey found.
The MarketWatch poll was conducted among a representative sample of 500 parents of children up to the age of 15.
To stay safe, locate the bonfire far from weeds, thorns, bushes, trees and electric and phone lines. Surround it with rocks to prevent participants from getting too close or the fire from spreading. Wear high-topped shoes to prevent harm from snakes, nails, insects or thorns.
Take a first-aid kit and pails of water to extinguish the fire safely
with you. Don’t leave children alone for even a moment. Cool off food
that is cooked in the fire before eating it, says Beterem.
In the event of a serious burn, call MDA at 101. If a person is set
afire, roll him on the ground in earth or put out the fire with wet
blankets. Do not tear off clothing from the burnt skin. Cool it with
cold compresses. Do not apply ointments.
If a spark enters the eye, flush it out with a lot of water.