Haredim buning hametz 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
More children suffer accidents from poisoning to drowning during the two weeks
before Passover than during any other fortnight in the year.
are even greater during the week before the Festival of Freedom, when children
are on school holiday and parents are involved in intensive cleaning
Beterem, the Israel Center for Child Health and Safety, and
the National Poison Control Center in Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center warn parents
to protect their children, especially during this period. Nearly half of all
child exposure to toxic chemicals occurs before Passover in children younger
than six years old.
Last year, there were 52 percent more poisonings in
the general population (766 cases) and 39% more children (338 cases) compared to
the previous year.
About 80% of chemical ingestion incidents during the
week before Passover involved cleaning and home extermination materials. The
most dangerous substances are bleach, detergents, extermination chemicals, oven
cleaners, calcium strippers and acids. Do not leave them for even a moment
within children’s reach, Beterem says. In addition, one must never mix different
kinds of chemicals.
Although only hametz (leavened food) needs be removed
from the home, families use Passover for a major cleaning project that can pose
risks to children due to open packages and objects that are usually stored. Do
not leave buckets with even small amounts of water on the floor, as a young
child can drown in them.
Beterem director Orly Silbinger says that
anything dangerous to children should be locked away or put in an unreachable
place. After they are no longer needed, they must be returned to a safe storage
place. Never put chemicals in food bottles, cups or other familiar containers.
Medications must be kept in containers that young children cannot open. Adults
must always read instructions and follow them before using products. Unused
paint thinners, pesticides and cleaning products should be removed from the
The Poison Control Center can be reached 24 hours a day at (04)
854-1900 in the event of any suspicion of accidental poisoning.
Laniado Medical Center – located in a neighborhood with many haredi
(ultra-Orthodox) children, reports on a significant increase in child burns
before Passover, as well as falls and poisonings.
“Children are curious
by nature, so one must take care of them and prevent them from accessing
dangerous things,” said Dr. Ya’acov Schechter of the pediatrics
Even when one finishes using a chemical and it cannot be
reached by a young child, the fumes can cause harm. Cleaning products with lower
concentrations of active ingredients should be purchased if there are young
children around. Any child who has been exposed to cleaning products should be
rushed to a hospital emergency room, Schechter said, with the package brought
along so doctors will know what antidote to give.
preparations, the risks of burns from boiling water and cooking foods are
especially high. Keep all pot handles turned inward on the inner burners of the
stove top to prevent children from reaching them. Don’t hold a young child in
your arms when cooking, as a sudden movement can lead to an
Food implements that are boiled in water for use during
Passover must not remain in hot water when children are around, as the
100-degree temperature can cause second- and third-degree burns.
children from climbing dangerously on window frames by barring them.
Health Ministry’s geriatric branch says that the needy elderly in the Jerusalem
and Haifa areas who live at home and have no place to go during Passover and
suffer from reduced physical and mental functioning are invited to stay free for
a few days or weeks in geriatric nursing facilities. Contact (02) 531- 4811 in
Jerusalem and (04) 863-3111 in Haifa for more information and to speak with
Meanwhile, for a list of kosher-for-Passover
medications, go to the ministry’s special website section at