Carnage in Adelaide – contact burns presentations during the hottest week in history

Dr Phyu Cin Thant1, Dr Lindsay Damkat-Thomas1, Professor John Greenwood1

1 Royal Adelaide Hospital Burns Unit, Port Road, Adelaide, SA 5000,


On January 24th of 2019, South Australia reached its hottest day on record with Adelaide topping 47.7°C. This day was also preceded by a number of hot days with temperatures above 35°C, making this January also the hottest January on record.

At the Burns unit of the Royal Adelaide Hospital, this was related to a spike in the number of inpatient admissions in particular with contact burns. Outpatient presentations however, remained comparable.

The two main types of contact burns that were admitted included diabetic soles of feet (which made up the majority), followed by prolonged contact with the ground from other reasons, such as a collapse.

Following this surge of burn injuries, there had been a couple of public health announcements and education via social media regarding education and prevention of contact burns. Whilst this is a positive outcome from the event, increased public awareness can be made in the future leading up to hot weather, particularly on the impact of such burns in diabetic and neuropathic patients.

SA health has a campaign “Healthy in the Heat” which provides education and prevention of heat related illness. However, there is still no public education on contact burns as a subset of its webpage. This presentation hopes to fill in the void in burns education and prevention.


  1. Australian Government bureau of meteorology. Adelaide (Kent Town), South Australia January 2019 daily weather observations. Available from <> [16 September 2019]
  2. SA Health. Staying healthy in the heat. Available from [16 September 2019]



Dr. Phyu Cin Thant is currently a surgical registrar at the Lyell McEwin Hospital, South Australia. During her time as a resident medical officer in the Burns Unit at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, under the direct guidance of Professor John Greenwood, she has experienced and participated in management of a myriad of burns cases varying from simple to complex.


ANZBA is a not for profit organisation and the peak body for health professionals responsible for the care of the burn injured in Australia and New Zealand. ANZBA encourages higher standards of care through education, performance monitoring and research.

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