Keeping kids safe near campfires

Burns specialists are urging families returning to campgrounds for the June long weekend to be vigilant to prevent children from suffering burns caused by campfires.

Women’s and Children’s Hospital Head of the Burns Service, Bernard Carney, said with many families set to holiday outdoors, there are concerns it could lead to a spike in presentations to the burns unit.

“Over the winter months, we know families like to go camping and enjoy a campfire, but sadly, we often see an increase in presentations for burns and related injuries around long weekends,” Mr Carney said.

“While the fire itself poses a risk, the most common injuries we see are from children who’ve gone out to play the next morning and haven’t realised the fire pit is still hot because it hasn’t been extinguished correctly.

“If a burn injury does occur, immediately apply first aid by running the burn under cool running water for 20 minutes before seeking medical attention. For serious burns, or in an emergency, always call triple zero (000).”

The burns service at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital treats around 600 children who have been injured with burns each year from South Australia, the Northern Territory and the western parts of New South Wales and Victoria.

Country Fire Service Acting Director of Preparedness Operations, Brenton Hastie, said campfires should be started slowly with sticks instead of accelerants and should always be monitored and extinguished responsibly.

“The safest way to put out a fire is with water- not dirt or sand which can smoulder for many days and potentially reignite,” Mr Hastie said.

“To properly extinguish a campfire, a responsible adult needs to completely douse the fire area in water, checking that it has soaked any flammable materials.

“It is important to always keep plenty of water close by.”

The messaging comes during National Burns Awareness Month, an Australia-wide campaign run by Kidsafe Australia which focuses on raising awareness of burns prevention.

Kidsafe SA Chief Executive Officer, Holly Fitzgerald, said the most important thing that families can do is actively supervise children around the fire.

“While it’s great to get outdoors and spend quality time with your family and friends, it’s also important to make sure children are properly supervised around fires,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

“Active adult supervision means keeping watch at all times, anticipating behaviour, not being distracted by mobile phones or other devices, and making family ‘fire rules’.”

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