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MDA Releases Safety Guidelines Ahead of Lag Ba'omer

Building a fire, watching a fire, extinguishing a fire. Do you know what to do?
By Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 5/16/2014, 1:59 PM

Lag B'Omer bonfire
Lag B'Omer bonfire
Flash 90

Magen David Adom (MDA) released safety guidelines on Friday ahead of the upcoming Lag Ba'omer holiday, warning Israelis to be aware of basic fire safety rules while building the traditional bonfires.

Parents have been kindly reminded this year to supervise their children's and teenagers' bonfires, both to prevent fire-related injuries and to prevent scuffles from breaking out over local fire-building competitions. 

​MDA's guidelines include the following: 

Remember when collecting kindling: 

- Do not collect wood with nails or other sharp protrusions that could cause cuts.

- Do not enter abandoned lots; there may be snakes.

- Do not enter abandoned buildings. Falling boards or scaffolding could cause cuts, bruises, or worse injuries.

While setting up a bonfire, please note: 

- One adult should accompany the group to prevent fire-related injuries. 

- Determine that the location of the bonfire is free of thorns and weeds, and far from buildings or other property. 

- Do not light a fire under power and phone lines, near trees or bushes, or near fuel facilities. 

- Make sure there is reasonable distance from neighboring fires. 

- Do not pile the boards high, for they can fall and cause injuries. 

- It it recommended that stones be placed around the bonfire to prevent it from spreading, as well as to prevent children from coming too near to the flames. 

- All participants are recommended to wear long pants, boots, and sleeved shirts to block sparks and insect bites. 

- While in the woods, only light bonfires in designated areas. 

- Bring or locate a phone, to call MDA (at 101) in case of emergency. 

- We advise participants to bring a first-aid kit with them that is stocked to MDA standards. 

- Keep two buckets of water near in the event that fire spreads. 

During the bonfire:

- Appoint a responsible adult to both supervise the gathering and light the fire. 

- Keep all flammable materials away from the fire and never allow it to spread near fuel tanks or gas cylinders. 

- It is strictly forbidden to throw an aerosol container, firecrackers, or other materials that could explode and injure other participants. 

- Adding kindling must be done with caution and under adult supervision.

- Food should be cooked in the fire on the end of long metal skewers, by a responsible adult. Please make sure the food is cool enough to eat and handle before distributing. 

- Do not spray flammable materials into the fire. This is very dangerous and could lead to setting others aflame. 

- Keep children far from the fire to prevent burns. Do not leave children unattended for any length of time; remember, one moment of inattention could have lifelong effects. 

- Never place sleeping bags near a fire. 

- In the event of a burn, immediately plunge the affected area in cold water and call Magen David Adom at 101 - medics will guide you through first-aid until paramedics arrive. 

- Remember: if clothes catch on fire - STOP, DROP, and ROLL several times on the ground. You can also wrap a victim in a blanket to "stomp out" the fire; make sure the affected person's head is free of the blanket. 

- At the end of the bonfire, make sure the flames have been extinguished by dousing the embers with water or sand. 

What to do if someone is burnt:

1. Depending on the extent of the fire, either pour water on the burn and roll on the ground or wrap the victim in a wet blanket to smolder the fire as noted above. Make sure the victim's head remains exposed.

2. Do NOT remove burned clothing or attempt to remove dead skin from affected areas. In the event that the burn is confined to one area of the body, cool the burn immediately in running cold water or through cold compresses (preferably sterilized). Do not puncture blisters and do not remove skin; do not rub ointment or other materials on the burn.

3. In the event that lighter fluid gets in the eyes, wash out with water.

Pregnant women, the elderly, and people with respiratory problems should also shutter their homes during bonfires, as the thick smoke can cause lung damage.

MDA also warns not to ever throw alcohol into the fire or hold such beverages too close to the flames. 

"Every year there are many casualties during Lag Ba'omer celebrations, from people carelessly burning materials and flammable liquids and letting children near the fire," MDA Director Eli Bin stated. "I ask the public to always appoint a responsible adult to supervise fires, keep water buckets near the flames and call MDA immediately in the event of injuries." 

Lag Ba'omer falls out on Saturday night and Sunday this year, although the Rabbinate has postponed the celebration until Sunday night/Monday to prevent desecrating the Shabbat. Arutz Sheva will provide live coverage of Lag Ba'omer events from Meron.