Lag Ba’omer bonfires may pose dangers two nights in a row this year

Chief Rabbinate decides to postpone holiday from Saturday to Sunday night and Monday, when schools will be closed.

Lag baomer bonfire 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Lag baomer bonfire 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
There could be double trouble this year on Lag Ba’omer if parents do not properly supervise their children during bonfires.
Although the festival falls on Saturday night and Sunday, the Chief Rabbinate decided to postpone it to Sunday night and Monday, when schools will be closed. Many children are expected to make two nights of bonfires instead of one.
Marking the anniversary of the death of Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai, Lag Ba’omer also represents the end of the plague that wiped out 24,000 of Rabbi Akiva’s students.
Magen David Adom, the police and Fire and Rescue Services are prepared for the holiday around the country, focusing on Meron, near Safed, where Bar-Yohai is buried and hundreds of thousands are expected to converge.
Teams of paramedics and others will be on hand at the site to treat children and adults who suffer burns or feel unwell. An MDA helicopter has been prepared to evacuate the injured if needed. Last year, nearly 400 people – suffering from burns, injuries, excessive alcohol consumption, dehydration or other medical problems – were treated.
MDA advised drinking enough water, wearing hats to cover up against the sun, eating food that is properly heated or cooled and never throwing spray cans into a bonfire.
The crews will also help if there are the usual road accidents on the holiday. Children should be belted into seats and supplied with enough food and water in case of delays in reaching the site. Never leave a child alone in a vehicle for even a moment.
Do not climb trees to cut branches for bonfires. Stay far enough away from the fire so clothing does not burn. If someone suffers a burn, however, roll him in sand or cover his body (but not his head) in a wet towel or blanket. Do not remove clothing that sticks to the skin. If a spark enters the eyes, wash them with plenty of running water. Wear trousers and high-topped shoes to avoid harm from scorpions, snakes and nails, MDA said.
Pregnant women, the elderly and people with respiratory problems are strongly advised to stay away from the thick smoke.
To ensure greater fire safety in the capital, the Jerusalem Municipality is offering a pilot training program in the southern district for all residents.
“The purpose of the program is to create an appropriate and safe surrounding for residents who want to celebrate Lag Ba’omer, while preventing unnecessary risks,” the city said.
Additionally, the municipality will supply wood for fires that have been authorized, to prevent the burning of hazardous substances, which causes pollution and significant risk every year.
Designated areas for disabled and special needs residents will be established, as well as evacuation zones, the municipality said.
To prepare for the holiday, city employees from the horticulture department will also inspect the capital to prevent the use of uprooted benches, tables, trees, branches and vegetation in lighting fires.