How to stay safe when building your sukkah this year

Science and Health

Every year on Sukkot, hospital emergency rooms admit many patients who have been injured, burnt or otherwise hurt when preparing or using their holiday booths. The Israel Institute for Safety and Hygiene (IIOSH) in the National Insurance Institute has issued safety tips for preparing for the festival that begins on Friday night:

• Choose the right-sized hammer for the job. Pay attention to the striking surface’s diameter and ensure it matches the dimensions of the nails.

• Inspect the hammer handle to make sure it’s not damaged and ensure the hammerhead is securely attached to the handle. Strike the hammer when the striking surface is parallel to the surface being struck, and avoid glancing blows.

• When dealing with screws in inconvenient and hard-to-reach places, use screwdrivers with extensions to secure the screws.

• Hold the screwdriver with its shaft positioned vertically to the screw head. Do not grip the screwdriver handle in pliers to exert additional rotational force. Do not carry screwdrivers in your pockets.

Safety should be a priority when building a sukkah. (credit: ISRAEL INSTITUTE FOR OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HYGIENE)

• Use the saw appropriate for the task at hand (a metal saw is not suitable for cutting wood, and vice versa). Start cutting carefully and slowly. Pull the blade upwards until it begins to bite into the material. Start with partial cuts, and only then position the saw at the correct angle.

• The installation of electrical systems and wiring for lighting or any other purpose should be carried out only by a certified electrician. Incorrect installation or use of system components can endanger the occupants of the succa and may lead to electrocution.

• Light bulbs and electrical devices generate heat at different levels that can be especially dangerous in a sukkah and may catch fire, so make sure to keep sources of heat such as heaters away from flammable materials like succa walls and decorative coverings.

• The IIOSH recommends using cool LED lighting in the succa as these are not only more energy-efficient but also generate much less heat than other bulbs. In case of drizzle or rain, disconnect the power source from the electrical system. In event of electrocution, don’t touch the victim until you have disconnected the power source or used an insulated object like wood to separate him from the power source.

• During the assembly and disassembly or the hanging of decorations, use a suitable and stable ladder or a suitable scaffolding surface. Don’t climb on chairs and other unstable objects to avoid falling. At least two people should build a sukkah, with one assisting and helping the other and ensuring safety.

• If the sukkah is erected on a balcony, make sure that the succa window, if it exists in the wall, is securely fastened. During the stay in the sukkah, children should not place a chair and climb on it next to the window.

• Do not bring stoves, gas heaters, or ovens into the sukkah, which is made of flammable materials that can easily catch fire.