With the Purim season starting in earnest, children and adults alike are gearing up to deliver mishloach monos, attend mesibos and seudos, visit family, Rabbeim and teachers and all the excitement that goes with it. Purim, besides for holding the status as the most freilich day in the Jewish calendar, can also be the most dangerous day of the year. Increased traffic, uninhibited behavior, and hectic scheduling combine to place a tremendous amount of stress on a town such as Lakewood with a very large frum population.
LCSW and Hatzolah would like to highlight some of the most common Purim related problems and offer solutions and suggestions to help keep adults, teens and children safe.
Shuls, organizations and individuals should be extra vigilant about possible theft of funds from pushkas or homes. Unscrupulous individuals are very aware of the large amounts of money circulating on Purim and in the past there have been many instances of large thefts on Purim. LCSW is urging extra caution in this area in shuls, yeshivas and homes:
Tips to avoid theft:
- Keep tzedakah money hidden or locked away until needed
- Make sure Pushkas are left in a secure location
- Ensure that homes are locked when leaving for even a short period on Purim
- Report strange or unusual behavior immediately to proper authorities
On Purim the whole community is out and about delivering Misholoach Manos and visiting friends and family, all within a span of a few hours. The increased number of pedestrians, many of them children, and traffic can be chaotic and even dangerous at some junctions.
Please note, crossing guards risk life and limb to help ease the congestion and increase road safety on Purim. Please give the guards the respect they deserve and follow their instructions for your own sake and to ensure the safety of your fellow Lakewooders.
Tips for pedestrians:
- Only cross at corners
- Make sure to be visible to traffic by wearing a reflector etc.
- Walk in groups
- Don’t text while walking
- Walk on sidewalks when possible, not in streets
Thousands of vehicles will be on the road on Purim all trying to accomplish the same thing in a short window of time; creating a real-life nightmare. It is imperative to avoid the temptation to rush as urgent as the errand or task at hand may be. Please be extra careful, allowing pedestrians to cross and watching out for wild drivers. Please remember to leave more time than usual to get from point A to Point B, due to definite high volume of Purim traffic. In addition it is imperative to follow all crossing guard instructions for the safety of the whole town.
Tips for drivers:
- Consider using a delivery service to distribute your Mishloach Manos.
- Do not send young and inexperienced drivers out on Purim! This is not the day for them to test their skills.
- Team up! Travel with a responsible child or adult to make deliveries on a block and circle rather than double park.
- Plan a route using a street map of Lakewood to avoid unnecessary traveling and use alternate routes to major arteries, (New Hampshire or Hope Chapel instead of Route 9, etc.).
- Consider davening k’vasikin and doing deliveries early.
Underage drinking and excessive drinking by adults are the cause of numerous emergency room visits each Purim. If you are drinking please realize that drinking too much is very dangerous. If you are a non-drinker responsible for drinkers, please monitor those drinking to ensure it is within safe levels.
Tips for parents or those hosting drinkers:
- Speak to your children before Purim about the dangers of overdosing and alcohol poising. This is a real danger.
- On Purim, monitor the amount of alcohol consumed by a drinker/at a specific seudah
- On Purim, keep open bottles within arms-reach of a responsible adult
- If a drinker/party seems to be at unsafe level please seek emergency assistance right away
Purim is a day where teenagers are participating in seudahs and parties without parental accompaniment. The level of supervision that would be wise on Purim is not simply not practical for obvious reasons, however parents need to remember that they are still responsible for their teen’s safety even on a day like Purim.
Tips to ensure the safety of teenagers on Purim:
- Make sure the teenager is going around with a partner or with a group
- Make sure there is a non-drinker to drive your teen around
- Know a basic schedule of where and when they expect to be throughout the day and have him/her check in with you throughout the day
- If your teenage seems to be too drunk or in an unsafe environment see to it that he is brought to your home or another safe place
- If your teenager seems very unwell, seek emergency attention immediately
Some of our community’s children have been using Purim as a day to experiment with dangerous and illegal shtick such as fireworks. Without a doubt, this behavior has brought much suffering and heartache to many who have become injured or maimed when ‘playing with fire’ so to speak. In Israel, there already has been a case of a child who has lost an eye due to use of such a substance in early celebration of Purim this year. Please make sure that your children understand that they must never use these types of shtick and stay far away from anyone who is using it.
If we as a community join together to adhere to the above guidelines, we will be sure of a very leibedik and safe Purim – the way Purim is mean to be!