How to avoid Independence Day hazards

Have a happy and safe Independence Day weekend!

Every year, Independence Day celebrants, especially children, are injured in preventable accidents. With this week’s 70th anniversary celebrations extending over 70 hours from Thursday through Shabbat, authorities fear the toll will rise.

Accidents will also be more common on Lag Ba’Omer when bonfires are lit around the country in a few weeks.

Prof. Yehezkel Weissman, head of the Emergency Medicine Department at Schneider Children’s Medical Center in Petah Tikva, advises parents not to allow their children to use and play with spray-foam containers. If they are used nevertheless, ensure that the foam is never directed toward someone’s eyes, as the chemicals can cause serious burns to the cornea. If this occurs, wash the eyes immediately with tap water and seek medical attention.

Keep children from sources of fire and electricity at barbecues to avoid burns. If these occur, wash the skin with cold water, apply a clean bandage or cloth and take the victim to the doctor, emergency room or clinic.

Do not feed children up to the age of five any tough meat that is hard to chew, to prevent choking. Also, hot dogs should be sliced lengthwise and not in the form of rings so they aren’t inhaled into the trachea. During meals, children should eat sitting down at the table and not while playing or running.

Caps and other explosive devices should be avoided. Never keep them in pants pockets or play with them in your hands, as they can easily explode. Even fireworks sold in shops and bearing an Israel Standards Institute emblem may also cause injuries, he noted.

In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in the use of electric bicycles and the many injuries associated with them. Riding them or other electric vehicles such as hoverboards and scooters by children under the age of 14 is illegal. And their speed may not be upgraded to function at speeds of over 25 kilometers per hour.

Dana Reznik, a clinical dietitian at the hospital’s clinical nutrition and diet unit, notes that this national holiday provides an opportunity to set an example on a personal level as well. “Independence Day is not a holiday mainly of barbecues and fires; it is best to choose a picnic site that allows walking or other sports activities during recreation,” she said.

Prepare vegetable skewers and salads with children – according to their age – to convey a message about the importance of integrating vegetables into the menu. Consume vegetables in five colors to take advantage of the different minerals and vitamins they offer.

Choose foods with essential fatty acids (which the body needs and cannot produce by itself) such as avocado, olive oil, nuts, almonds, chickpeas, tehina and olives. It is important to include them in small amounts in light of their high caloric value.

Instead of fried chips, substitute healthful substitutes such as legumes, which are high in fiber and minerals, and contain more protein than white potatoes. If you insist on French fries, bake them, and use sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes. Never give infants younger than one year old honey alone or in meat or fish marinades or other foods so that they don’t develop a serious allergic reaction.

Experts from the Israel Standards Institute advise using only charcoal lighters whose product name is “charcoal and wood lighter material intended for barbecues.” Never use other flammable materials to light the grill. Read the safety instructions marked on the charcoal lighter packaging before using the product. Keep all of them out of children’s reach.

Do not spray liquid charcoal on an open fire or hot coals because the flame can jump back in your direction. Before putting the food on the fire, make sure that the lighter material is fully consumed.