School holiday “burnanza”

Dr Sonia Tran1, Dr Monique Bertinetti1

1The Children’s Hospital Westmead, Sydney, Australia


Introduction: Anecdotally, a higher number of paediatric burns are referred to the burns unit at the Children’s Hospital Westmead (CHW) during the school holidays. To our knowledge, there is currently no study evaluating burns sustained by school-aged children during the school holidays compared to during the school term. This has the potential to direct timing of burn prevention strategies.

Methodology: An epidemiological analysis of school-aged children was conducted comparing burns sustained during the school holidays to burns during the school term. Data was retrieved from a prospectively collected database. We compared patient demographics, burn aetiology, burn severity, hospital admission, length of stay (LOS) and need for grafting.

Results: 3019 children were referred to CHW between January 2005 and January 2019. 2102 children sustained a burn during the school term and 917 during the school holidays. The average rate of burns sustained per week increased significantly from 4 children per week during the school term to 5 children per week during the holidays (RR1.31; 95%CI 1.21-1.41, p<0.0001). Contact burns were proportionally more common during the school holidays than during the school term whilst the proportion of scalds decreased significantly  (OR0.74; 95% CI 0.64 – 0.87, p=0.002). There was no difference between mean age, % total body surface area, admission rates, grafting rates or LOS.

Conclusion: Burn injuries amongst school-aged children are more common during the school holidays. Increased burn prevention campaigns in the period approaching the school holidays may be more effective in raising public awareness and reducing burn injuries amongst school aged children.


Sonia Tran is currently the Burns Fellow at the Children’s Hospital Westmead.


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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