(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
During the two weeks before Pessah and especially during the school vacation,
the number of incidents of accidental poisoning, skin burns and drowning
skyrockets, especially among children up to the age of six, according to the
National Poison Control Center at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, BETEREM and
the Health Ministry.
Youngsters are often inadequately supervised while
parents clean the house using chemicals, and even leaving a few centimeters of
standing water in a pail can result in drowning.
The Haifa center said
this week that during this risky period, the number of accidents rises by a
third or more, and 45 percent to 60% of the victims are preschoolers. Almost all
are exposed to the dangers at home and harmed due to curiosity and lack of
parental information – including the information that cleaning products should
never be mixed together or used without ventilation. Pesticides, petroleum
products and medications also find themselves in children’s hands.
phenomenon is unique to Israel and to Jewish communities in the Diaspora, the
BETEREM, the National Center for Child Safety and Health,
said that a survey of 501 parents of Jewish children up to the age of 15 found
that a third were storing cleaning supplies under the kitchen sink behind
unlocked cabinets. Parents of higher income and education are more likely to be
careful about toxic product storage.
Two years ago, a new standards
regulation required oven cleaner, which can be very harmful, to be wellmarked
and have a childproof mechanism.
Foreign substances should never be put
in bottles that usually contain drinks. Dangerous materials shouldn’t be left
even for a moment; they must be immediately closed securely and put out of
reach. In addition, these products should not be stored near foods, to avoid
If a child swallows a caustic material, he or she should not
be induced to vomit, but rushed to the hospital. If older children are
encouraged to help cleaning, they must be well supervised.
In the event
of concern about possible poisonings, the national center at (04) 854-1900 can
be contacted around the clock.
Meanwhile, Dr. Gad Ben-Dror, an expert in
infectious diseases at Ziv Hospital in Safed, warned that every Pessah, more
people mishandle fresh fish in the kitchen – especially while cleaning scales,
bones and fins – exposing themselves to the danger of hands, arms and even
shoulders being infected with potentially deadly Vibrio bacteria.
suffering from chronic diseases should especially avoid this and ask their
fishmonger to clean the fish for them.