Cooking ain’t looking: Paediatric contact related barbecue burns

Dr Jason Diab1,2,3, Ms Madeleine Jacques1, Dr John Vandervord1,2, Prof Andrew Holland1,2

1The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and The Children’s Hospital Burns Research Institute, Sydney, Australia, 2Sydney Medical School, Faculty of Medicine and Health, The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia, 3School of Medicine, The University of Notre Dame, Sydney, Australia


Barbecue devices can be classified into several categories, including electrical, gas-fuelled, and charcoal-based devices. Recreational outdoor burns are a preventable cause of morbidity and disability. This study aims to describe and analyse contact related barbecue coal burns in the paediatric age group across New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.
A retrospective review from January 2009 – January 2019 at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead. All barbecue coal burn injuries in children less than 16 years that attended or were referred to the Burns Unit were included.
There were 48 patients whom presented with a contact burn barbecue coal related injury. The male to female ratio was 5:3 with an average age of 2.5 years. Most injuries occurred in the home setting. The most common site of injury were the hands. The most frequent type of injury was a mid-dermal burn, followed by deep and superficial respectively.
Charcoal barbeque burns in children were uncommon, usually occurred at home and most commonly involved critical burn areas such as the hands, with the potential for long-term functional impairment. This case series highlights the importance of understanding prevention campaigns around barbecues


Jason is a surgical registrar with previous clinical and research experience in paediatric and adult burns. He has a strong passion for burn education and prevention.

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