Burns spike brings warning ahead of long weekend

An alarming rise in burns admissions to The Alfred has experts urging Victorians to exercise extreme caution around fire this long weekend.


Photo: CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan, Alfred Health Victorian Adult Burns Unit Director Associate Professor Heather Cleland and FRV Commissioner Ken Block

Alfred Health Victorian Adult Burns Unit Director Associate Professor Heather Cleland said burns admissions were at a five-year high last financial year, with 362 admissions. 

With warm weather forecast this long weekend, she said burns stemming from recreational settings such as campfires and barbecues were a major concern. 

“Young men aged between 20-29 were overrepresented last year, especially when it came to burns stemming from incidents involving activities such as barbecues and campfires,” Professor Cleland said. 

“If you are lighting a fire this weekend, don’t use accelerants as they’re a recipe for disaster. Almost 30 percent of hospital burns admissions last year caused by a fire were fuelled by accelerants - 36 of which were at campfire and bonfire sites.” 

CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan said Victorians heading to the great outdoors must check fire restrictions and weather conditions, and remember that lighting any fire in the open air is forbidden on a Total Fire Ban. 

“An uncontrolled fire can not only cause burns and injuries to you, but it can spark a bushfire or grassfire that threatens other people’s lives and properties as well,” CO Heffernan said. 

“It’s important to use water when extinguishing a campfire, as it can smoulder for several days under soil and reignite under the right conditions.” 

CO Heffernan warned Victorians that temperatures are starting to build to a peak on Sunday, when it’s expected to reach 40 degrees in parts of the state. 

Fire Rescue Commissioner Ken Block urged anyone having a barbecue over the long weekend to thoroughly check their gas bottles before firing it up. 

“Don’t use the cylinder if it is damaged and clean the hose and regulator connections with a soapy sponge. Then spray the connection points with soapy water - bubbles will form if gas is escaping,” Commissioner Block said. 

“If you’ve got any doubts about the connections, turn off the gas and replace the connection, or contact a licensed gasfitter.”

Author: CFA Media, FRV, The Alfred