Medics warn Israelis to be careful hunting Pokemon
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Medics warn Israelis to be careful hunting Pokemon

After injuries playing hit augmented reality game, Magen David Adom emergency service urges public to take care

Illustrative photo of a young Israeli man playing Pokémon Go on his iPhone, on July 28, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of a young Israeli man playing Pokémon Go on his iPhone, on July 28, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Israel’s emergency medical service on Thursday issued common sense advice for using the smash hit Pokemon Go augmented reality game, warning users to take precautions while hunting the cartoon pocket monsters.

After a handful of players sustained injuries playing the game in recent days, the Magen David Adom emergency service “expressed concern at the dangerous phenomenon that’s gaining momentum.”

“We are calling on the public to take precautions and be aware of the dangers the game poses,” a statement from MDA director Eli Bin said. “It’s inconceivable that kids, teens and adults will get sucked into this game and end up risking their lives for nothing.”

On Monday, Israeli teenager Assaf Ben Guzi almost drowned at an Ashdod beach after he lost consciousness in the Mediterranean Sea while chasing a Pokemon Go monster on his phone.

On Tuesday, a 15-year-old girl from northern Israel fell off her bike while playing the game, sustaining a light head injury. On Wednesday, a 35-year-old man was hospitalized after he walked into, and shattered, a glass door while searching for a pocket monster.

MDA’s warning is the latest in a slew of similar statements issued worldwide since the wildly popular smartphone app was launched two weeks ago.

Belarus has warned players to avoid its minefields, Indonesia has banned its own police from using it, and Australian authorities have made it clear that “I was collecting Pokemon” is not a legal defense against a charge of trespassing.

The Israel Cancer Association last week warned players against prolonged sun exposure while playing the game, while the Israel Defense Forces has banned the game from military bases, fearing the GPS and camera-based game could leak sensitive information to the internet.

Pokemon Go uses smartphone satellite location, graphics and camera capabilities to overlay cartoon monsters on real-world settings, challenging players to capture and train the creatures for battles.

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