Tips for a safe and healthy Pessah

The days leading up to the holiday - especially when day care centers, kindergartens and schools close - are among the most dangerous for children.

The days leading up to Pessah - especially when day care centers, kindergartens and schools close for the holiday - are among the most dangerous of the year for children. During this time, incidences of accidental poisonings from cleaning products, drowning in buckets of water, burns and other preventible accidents are 43 percent higher than during an ordinary week. There are 99% more accidental poisonings among adults and children during the week prior to, and 26% during the two weeks before Pessah, compared to the rest of the year, says Beterem, the National Center for Child Safety and Health. Last year, MDA treated and brought to hospitals a total of 845 poisoning victims of all ages, compared to 747 during the previous year - a 13% increase. Bleach, alkaline oven cleaners and fat removers cause the most harm when swallowed because they burn the esophagus and the stomach. Physical contact and inhalation of the fumes, however, can also be very harmful to both children and adults. Beterem warns that "safety caps" on caustic acid cleaning products (such as those found on some brands of oven cleaners) are not impregnable and recommends against purchasing such products at all. Adults are reminded to never leave any cleaning products within children's reach, and to never mix cleaning products together. Beterem also recommends wearing rubber gloves while using harsh cleaning products to avoid skin burns and rashes. Air rooms when using such products. Don't store cleaning products in soft-drink bottles. MDA warns against giving those who swallow toxic substances either milk or lemon juice to drink to neutralize the poison, as doing so can cause vomiting and even more damage. If chemicals get into someone's eye, wash it immediately with a lot of water while asking the victim to move their eye in all four directions. Another danger to children is standing water and Beterem warns again leaving even a small amount of water in a pail, which can drown small children. Nuts and other small or hard objects should be kept away from children under the age of five, says Beterem. Meanwhile, the Health Ministry on Thursday reminded Israelis how to safely prepare fish for the holiday to prevent Vibrio vulnificus infections, which can be very dangerous. This bacteria, found in pond fish like amnon, musht, buri and Denis, can cause serious infections and even sepsis in people with weak immune systems, such as the elderly and those suffering from chronic diseases. Purchase fresh fish only from licensed retail shops or supermarkets. It must be displayed on a cooled window and surrounded by pieces of ice at a temperature of -4 degrees. Do not buy directly from fish farms or open stalls that don't provide proper cooling conditions. Don't touch live fish or buy live fish or whole cooled fish. They should be purchased only when cleaned of scales, fins and gills that can pierce the skin and introduce the bacteria. The ministry goes so far as to advise all people who have weak immune systems to avoid all contact with uncooked fish. The average Israeli gains between two and six kilos during Pessah, but getting heavier does not have to be the holiday's 11th plague. Eat a lot of vegetables and fruits, drink a lot of water and eat low-calorie matza, dieticians advise. One glass of white wine contains 136 calories, sweet red wine 334 calories and grape juice 174. A piece of regular matza has 160 calories, compared to low-calorie matza which contains 100. One coconut cookie contains 200 calories. Exercise. Eat slowly and wear tighter clothing, so you can feel when you're overeating.