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      Warning: Some Purim Toys are Not for Children

      Parents are being warned to watch out for Purim toys that could be dangerous. Even some costumes pose a danger.
      By Hana Levi Julian and Shimon Cohen
      First Publish: 2/11/2010, 11:30 AM / Last Update: 2/11/2010, 12:27 PM

      Flash 90

      Various sites around the country are being rocked with the sounds of explosions coming from Purim cap guns and firecrackers, setting off fears of rocket attacks among children and teens. But it's not only the toy guns that are the problem -- even some costumes might be dangerous.

      Dalia Marom, head of the toys and metals laboratory at the Mechanical Standards Institute, reiterated an annual message to parents and children in an interview with Arutz Sheva's Hebrew news service. “All toys are required to have warnings on them, written in Hebrew. One must read them and operate the toy according to the instructions,” she said. “If there are no instructions, just don't touch it,” she added.

      Marom noted that the warnings are intended primarily for parents, whom, she said, bear the primary responsibility for monitoring the items with which their children play. “Adults are not always so careful either,” she said.

      One recommendation was to use the traditional “cap gun” in an “non-traditional” manner, and instead, use only the gun itself for the child's play on Purim. Each year, many accidents are reported with these particular toys. Children whose pockets are filled with the caps – which are actually bits of gunpowder – suffer varying degrees of burns after falling and setting off small explosions.

      In order to gain the approval of the Institute, a toy or costume must meet a specific fire safety standard. “We do not claim that something is not flammable, but that the material sprayed on the costume inhibits the spread of fire long enough for one to be able to extinguish it.”  However, Marom added, in order to maintain the non-flammable status, one must refrain from washing the costume, and send it to a dry cleaner if necessary, because the flammability-protection material is water-soluble.

      Marom strongly urged parents to practice fire safety procedures with their children, including techniques on how to rapidly extinguish flames if the costume should catch fire. Such measures include dropping to the ground and rolling around to put out the flames.

      Masks are also an issue, she said, noting that sometimes there are no ventilation openings in the front, and that the sizes are not always suited for a child's head. “In such cases there is a risk of suffocation,” Marom warned. She advised parents to test all masks before Purim, especially because some children are sensitive to different odors that emanate from the rubber or plastic material of the mask.  Those odors, or the material itself, can also cause dizziness or headaches in some children, she added.

      Parents should also check Purim makeup ahead of time, Marom recommended, pointing out that many substances have not necessarily been inspected or approved by the government, and could cause skin irritations or other allergic reactions.