Campfire burns in children: an Australian experience

Burns. 2002 Jun;28(4):374-8. doi: 10.1016/s0305-4179(02)00019-0.


Objectives: To document and describe the effects of campfire burns on children. To identify the sources of danger contributing to such injuries, so that a prevention strategy can be devised.

Design, patients and setting: Departmental database and case note review of all children with campfire burns seen at the Burns Unit of a tertiary referral children's hospital between January 1999 and June 2001.

Main outcome measures: Number and ages of children burned; risk factors contributing to the accidents; injuries sustained; treatment required and long-term sequelae.

Results: Thirty-three children, median age 2.5 years, sustained burns, usually to the hands and feet, with eight requiring surgery and the majority requiring some form of scar therapy. Seventy-four percent of the children were burned by hot ashes and coals, usually from the previous night's fire, rather than by open flames.

Conclusions: Campfires cause serious injuries to children. In particular, hot ashes and coals from inadequately extinguished campfires pose the greatest danger. Increasing the awareness of this easily preventable problem amongst campers is intended through a public education campaign.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Burns / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Foot Injuries / epidemiology
  • Hand Injuries / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Recreation*
  • Risk Factors