By JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH
Before you buy Purim costumes, toy pistols and other items for the holiday, make sure they are safe and legal.
Magen David Adom and Beterem (the National Center for Child Safety and Health) say that every year, scores of children and teenagers are needlessly injured before and during the holiday, which will be marked from Saturday night March 3 to March 5 (Shushan Purim in the ancient walled cities).
It is forbidden to use weapons that look like the real thing and any types of explosives or gunpowder. The only objects that go "boom" that are permitted are cap pistols (the caps are made from paper or plastic) and sparklers that are thrown on the ground.
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.
Buy only those costumes approved and marked by the Israel Standards Institute; if they are not, they may be flammable and extremely dangerous.
Prefer short costumes that are worn close to the body instead of long, broad ones that are hard to get around in and can catch fire accidentally from candles, heaters and the like.
Homemade costumes should not include flammable cotton wool or fabrics, paper or objects worn around the neck that can cause choking if caught on something.
Do not use "snow" or hair sprays or shoot near the ears. Makeup should be used only if approved by the Health Ministry.
Masks with strings that can choke the wearer must be avoided. Make sure that eye holes are big enough not to limit the field of vision and with air holes that do not restrict breathing. Masks are not recommended for children under the age of eight. Instruct children to remove masks, costumes, wigs and other objects when playing on seesaws and other park installations.
Mishloah manot (gift parcels) for children under five should not include any small or hard foods or objects on which they can choke, including balls of chewing gum or nut-filled Haman's ears.
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