To mark Burns Awareness Month, Victorian firefighters have joined The Alfred to remind families not to take a break from fire safety around the home during the school holidays.
More than a quarter of burns patients around the country are children or young teenagers, according to Monash University’s Burns Registry of Australia and New Zealand.
Most of these burns occur in the kitchen or lounge room areas of the home, which are also areas where residential fires most commonly start in Victoria.
CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan said Burns Awareness Month is a timely reminder to take extra precautions while kids are around to prevent serious burns or devastating house fires.
“While burns hazards and fire hazards can be different, we can help prevent either tragedy occurring by following some simple steps.
“Always supervise children in the kitchen, keep them away from the stove and oven, and keep saucepan handles turned in.
“When it comes to fireplaces, make sure you have a properly fitted fire screen. Matches should also be stored safely out of reach and children should never be left alone near candles.
“Finally, make sure there is nothing within a metre of portable heaters, and ensure powered electrical appliances like hairdryers and laptops are not left on soft surfaces such as couches or beds.”
Alfred Health Burns Nurse Practitioner Hana Menezes said 3,367 people were admitted to a burns service across Australia last financial year – continuing a worrying trend.
"Unfortunately, we’ve been seeing this number increase steadily over the years and it’s a trend we need to turn around," she said.
"Winter is just as dangerous as summer when it comes to potential burns. Scalds, cooking-related incidents and burns from winter warmers such as hot water bottles all rise during these months.
"This can be easily reversed by taking a few safety precautions. Replace old or worn items such as hot water bottles and cooking equipment, and always remain vigilant around hot oils and surfaces.
"A burn is an injury with life-long ramifications. It’s well worth taking a few moments to ensure it doesn’t happen to you.”
In addition, the fire services are reminding Victorians to test their smoke alarms, and that the school holidays are an ideal time.
Fire Rescue Commissioner Ken Block said “It only takes a few minutes to test if your smoke alarm is in working order.”
“The best way to protect your family from fire is to install interconnected smoke alarms in every bedroom, hallway and living area of your home.”
“We encourage you to do so – smoke alarms proactively save lives.”