Safe Purim: Choosing costumes, toys and treats wisely

Health authorities and Israel Standards Institution urge parents to ensure that costumes purchased are safe for all ages.

Ninja costume outfit 311 (photo credit: Creative Commons)
Ninja costume outfit 311
(photo credit: Creative Commons)
As commercial Purim costumes are almost always cheap outfits imported from China a few weeks in advance, the health authorities and Israel Standards Institution (ISI) urge parents to ensure that those purchased are safe for all ages, with ISI certification.
No equipment for Purim should be purchased at a kiosk or other unrecognized point of sale.
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Children also should not be allowed to have illegal explosives, makeup without Health Ministry approval or spray foams that can harm the eyes.
Cases of burns and hearing damage are several times higher before and during the holiday of Purim compared to most of the rest of the year, health authorities say.
Beterem, the National Center for Child Safety and Health, reports that hospital emergency rooms get 3.5 times as many burn cases during this season.
Beterem director Orly Silbinger said that numerous children suffer second-andthird- degree burns on their hands, face, neck and knees when playing with fireworks, cap pistols and other illegal explosives sold in stores and kiosks. Beterem calls on the local authorities to enforce the law forbidding the sale of these items.
In addition, toys that look like authentic weapons are illegal. Caps that explode may not be stored in pockets, as friction can cause them to go off unexpectedly.
A short costume worn close to the body is preferable to long and broad ones that could more easily catch fire. It is best to avoid – in both handmade and store-bought costumes – inflammable material like cotton wool, carton and feathers, anything on the head or face (such as masks) that obstructs the view of traffic, or shoelaces that can lead to strangling.
The use of masks by any child under eight is not recommended; older children should not wear marks without breathing holes. Costumes that hinder vision and have wide sleeves are not recommended.
Masks and other such accessories should be taken off when children play outdoors.
Makeup that lacks Health Ministry approval could be toxic or cause skin reactions and should be avoided.
Younger children should not have unsupervised access to treats received as Purim food parcels, as nuts, candies and little toys can cause choking.
If a costume catches fire, Magen David Adom advises laying the child on the ground and rolling him in sand or earth, putting out the fire with water or smothering the flame with a wet blanket.
Do not cover the victim’s head, pull burnt clothing from the skin or apply ointments.
Take the victim for immediate medical treatment.
Last year, an eight-year-old girl was seriously burned and her older sister also hurt when they played at home with caps. An eight-year-boy was seriously hurt when a package of caps exploded in his hand.
A 13-year-old boy lost his vision in one eye due to explosives being thrown. A 14-year-old boy who tried to increase the intensity of an explosion put dangerous material in a pipe; the explosion took off five of his fingers to be removed and sent shrapnel into his eye.
Make sure any explosive caps that are permitted for sale have Hebrew instructions for use, and are marked with the name of the importer and the name of the manufacturer, as well as age limitations.
Do not rub legal explosives with stones.
Noisemakers used during the holiday, including the reading of the Megilla, should not have small parts that could disconnect or break and be swallowed by babies or toddlers.
Schneider Children’s Medical Center clinical dietitian Dafna Ziv-Bosani added that oznei Haman pastries contain 130 to 200 calories apiece, depending on the size and filling.
Homemade goodies for food parcels are preferable to highly processed sweet treats and usually more nutritious.
Whole-wheat flour is preferred and treats with fruit fillings such as dates or poppy seed can be made with much less sugar.
Food coloring should be avoided, but if it is used, it should be of high quality and as natural as possible.