'Prevent annual Lag Ba'omer burns blight'

Saturday night bonfires will mark the festive pause in the counting between Pessah and Shavuot.

bonfire 88 (photo credit: )
bonfire 88
(photo credit: )
Bonfires will light up the countryside on Saturday night, with the marking of Lag Ba'omer, the festive pause in the mourning period corresponding with the counting of the Omer between Pessah and Shavuot. The 33rd day of the Omer is regarded in Jewish tradition as joyous, due to the halting of a plague that raged among the disciples of the great sage Rabbi Akiva because "they did not act respectfully towards each other." The festive day is usually celebrated with outings, bonfires, weddings and visits to the burial site in Meron (near Safed) of the great mystic and Zohar author Rabbi Shimon bar-Yohai, whose death anniversary coincides with the date of the holiday. But because the day begins on Saturday night, with little time after Shabbat for preparation of wedding celebrations, rabbis will not marry couples until Sunday and and some are discouraging masses of people from going to Meron before Sunday. Beterem, the National Center for Child Safety and Health, urged parents to supervise their children - on school holiday Sunday - as there are three times as many burns and other injuries on Lag Ba'omer than on an ordinary one. Wooden boards used for bonfires must be free of nails. Beware of snakes and scorpions when going into grassy areas to collect the wood; do not take boards from building sites, which are dangerous. Establish a safe border around the wood using rocks. Set up the pile of wood in an area free of inflammable material and far from trees and electricity and phone lines. Wear high-topped shoes and long-sleeved clothing to prevent harm from sparks. It is advisable to have a cellphone to call the fire department or Magen David Adom if necessary. Bring two pails of water to put out the fire's last embers. Never leave younger children unsupervised. Do not throw any inflammable material, including petrol, bullets, spray cans or firecrackers, into the fire. Do not sleep, especially in sleeping bags, near the fire. Cook potatoes and other food in the fire using skewers and not by inserting them directly into the bonfire, and make sure that they are not too hot to touch. Dr. Amar Hussein, director of Ziv Hospital's emergency room in Safed, said that in the event of a person catching fire, do not let him run. Instead, roll him on the ground or cover his body (not his head) in a wet blanket. Do not forcibly pull off clothing that clings to the skin. In the event of burns, call MDA at 101. Cover burns with a sterile bandage or clean sheet. Do not apply any oil or ointment on the skin. Give the victim many small swallows of water until help arrives.