Campfire burns: a not so Happy Easter

Dr Samantha Smith1, Dr Jake  Willet, Ms Linda Quinn, Dr Michelle  Lodge, Mr Darren  Molony, Dr Annie Roberts, Dr Amy Jeeves, Mr Bernard Carney

1Women’s And Children’s Hospital, North Adelaide , Australia



Thermal burns from campfires and hot coals are a significant cause of preventable morbidity in children and adolescents in Australia.  They represent 12% percent of all burns presentations (69 cases) to the Paediatric Tertiary Centre examined in this study over a 1 year period from April 2020-2021.  The Easter long weekend remains a particularly high risk period for presentations with this pattern of injury.


A retrospective analysis of trends in paediatric burn injuries due to camp fires and hot coals was performed with comparison between the 2021 Easter holiday and the previous 5 years.  Burns Unit data was audited and case notes were reviewed for all burn referrals and admissions during this period.  Ethics approval was sought retrospectively.


5 patients were referred over the 4 day 2021 Easter holiday which equates to 42% of all burns sustained within this timeframe. Within the past 5 years, campfire burns have been disproportionately represented as a burn aetiology with up to 60% of burn presentations over the Easter Holiday periods due to campfires/hot coals.


Recent targeted education campaigns (e.g. “Learn Don’t Burn – Campfire Safety”) urging families to make campfire safety a priority have previously been implemented with success demonstrated in targeting this preventable burn injury.  However, campfire burns continue to form a significant portion of all burns presentations.  Ongoing advocacy and education campaigns focused on campfire safety, particularly while young children are around, are essential to reducing the impact of this preventable burn aetiology within our community.


Dr Samantha Smith

– MBBS University of Adelaide, 2019

– Paediatric Resident Medical Officer currently working as a member of the Women’s and Children’s Hospital Burns Unit in Adelaide, South Australia

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