Wednesday night marks the beginning of Lag Ba'omer, the thirty-third day in the traditional counting of the Omer between Passover and Shavuot.
The amount of firefighters on duty during Lag Ba'omer will be increased and patrols in central locations will be carried out in order to provide an immediate response in the event of a fire.
Special preparations have also been made for the celebration at Mount Meron where hundreds of thousands of people are expected to visit.
The Fire and Rescue Commission released safety guidelines ahead of the holiday, warning Israelis to be aware of basic fire safety rules while building the traditional bonfires.
Guidelines for Conducting Safe Bonfires
- An isolated spot, free of flammable materials should be chosen – a sandy surface is preferable
- It is forbidden to light a fire in the following locations:
- Near structures (residential, industrial, storage etc.)
- Near electrical installations or beneath power lines or telephone wires
- Near hazardous or flammable materials
- Near gas tanks
- Near trees or vegetation
- Near automobiles
- In public parks
Lighting the Bonfire
- A bonfire should only be lit by an adult who will remain responsible for it and for the children in the area
- A bonfire should only be lit with matches and paper, or with solid fire starters
- It is forbidden to start a fire with flammable liquid, such as gasoline or oil
- The fire should be lit from a safe distance, with your face turned away
- When starting a fire, you should wear long clothing with your sleeves rolled up and closed shoes
- Children should be kept at a distance from the fire when lighting it
- All flammable materials should be kept at a distance (gas balloons, aerosol cans, lighters)
Sitting Around the Fire
- A responsible adult should always be present
- It is recommended to surround the bonfire with stones in order to keep children from coming too close
- Two buckets of water should be kept near the fire
- Closed shoes and long pants should be worn (to prevent injury from sparks and bugs)
- People should keep a safe distance from the fire and heat
- Do not sit in the direction of the wind (sparks and smoke will gravitate towards you)
- It is forbidden to play with fire or jump over it
- It is forbidden to throw firecrackers, bullets or aerosol cans into the fire (full or empty)
- Adding wood should be done with extreme caution and gradually
- It is forbidden to pour flammable liquid on to the fire
- Children should be kept away from the fire (the fire's heat can injure them)
- Do not touch objects that have come in direct contact with the fire
- It is forbidden to sleep near the bonfire
At the End of the Evening
- The bonfire should be completely extinguished, and the area should be cooled with water
- The fire pit should be covered with sand to prevent sparks and coals from igniting
- It is forbidden to leave a fire burning with no supervision
If Someone Catches on Fire
- If your clothing has caught on fire, do not run!
- Lie on the ground and roll over a few times
- You can use a blanket or towel to wrap someone who has caught on fire
- Cool burns immediately 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.
In the event of a fire, try to put it out immediately, and contact the Fire and Rescue Services by dialing 102.