Lag Ba’omer is a holiday during which many people have a tradition to light bonfires. It is with this in mind that United Hatzalah has issued the following precautions to help people avoid injuries big or small, and provide instructions on what to do should a person get injured.
Often these injuries tend to happen to children or youth, but anyone can get hurt as fire can be a very dangerous thing. Every year, United Hatzalah first responders are dispatched to dozens of medical emergencies resulting from the misuse of fire. The resulting injuries, burns, smoke inhalation and reactions to flammable materials touching the skin are painful and can be deadly.
The following recommendations are precautions that everyone should take in order to prevent injury and unnecessary disasters.
1: Take great precautions when collecting wood for bonfires.
- Use only wood that does not contain nails, projections, or other items that stick out that may cause injuries while carrying them. These extraneous items are dangerous to have in bonfires as well.
- When collecting wood, make sure that there are no animals under or around the wood, and be aware of possible poisonous animals that tend to use it as nests.
2: When lighting a bonfire make sure that the entirety of the fire is in a location that is clear of any underbrush, thorns, grass, and is an ample distance away from any buildings or parked cars.
3: In light of the extreme heat expected this year during the holiday:
- Only light bonfires in locations that are in accordance with city or municipal guidelines
- Bring lots of water for drinking as well as dousing the fire afterward
- Appoint a responsible adult to be in charge of the bonfire and make sure that no one, especially children, approaches the fire itself
- Ensure that an adult stays behind to douse the bonfire and make sure that all flames and embers are put out before leaving the area
4: No child should approach the bonfire to add wood or other flammable materials to the flames
5: The person in charge of the bonfire must make sure that numerous buckets full of water are stationed near the bonfire in the event that the fire suddenly spreads
6: Surround the area of the fire with bricks or stones in order to prevent children from getting close to the fire.
7: It is prohibited to light a bonfire in close proximity to high-voltage powerlines
8: Parents should ensure that their children do not run near or around a bonfire.
9: Wear long pants and a shirt that will protect from flying embers or sparks
10: Do not spray gasoline or any accelerant on a fire that is already lit. Doing so can be deadly.
11: Do not throw any weapons, fireworks, gunpowder, canisters, empty or otherwise, into a bonfire. They will explode and often will cause injury.
12: Do not throw coals into a garbage bag or container.
13: Do not burn tires. The smoke resulting from such flames is thick and deadly, especially for children and the elderly.
14: In the event of a fire spreading, call the Fire Department at 911 immediately. Make sure that a path is available for the firetrucks and emergency vehicles to access the area immediately.
15: In the event of a burn, cool the area immediately by running lukewarm tap-water on it.
- If a burn is severe, immediately call rescue services for help.
16: At the end of the gathering make sure that all fire is completely put out. Lit embers or ashes can cause flare-ups.
- Pour water and/or sand on the area that the fire was burning to make sure it is entirely put out.
17: Elderly people and people who are ill should not sit near a bonfire for an elongated period of time.
United Hatzalah wishes everyone a happy, healthy, and safe Lag Ba’Omer.