National Burns Awareness Month 2023
June is National Burns Awareness month in Australia. This month-long campaign raises awareness of burn injury, prevention measures and the correct first aid treatments for minor burn injuries.
It is held in June each year to coincide with the onset of winter and cooler temperatures. This seasonal change can increase the risk of burn injury due to greater utilisation of heat sources, uptake of hot food and drinks and outdoor activities that include campfires and fire pits.
We have partnered with Kidsafe Australia and the ANZBA prevention committee to help spread these important messages within our communities.
Raising awareness: burn injury spotlight
Burns are a life-altering event. They cause immediate and long-term traumas to mind and body and are arguably the most painful, unique and complex injury a human can suffer. Prevention is better than a cure.
For National Burns Awareness Month 2023, we wanted to highlight the dangers of outdoor recreational fires. In Australia, we embrace an outdoor lifestyle all year-round however, in the cooler months of the year, we see a rise in burn injuries resulting from the use of home firepits and campfires.
Starting a recreational fire comes with risk and responsibility. If you plan to start a campfire or use a firepit, you must adopt appropriate fire safety practices that can reduce the risk of burn injury and the chance of starting an uncontrollable fire that can destroy lives, property, and the environment.
To help you know what to do, we have developed a free new resource poster with steps and safety tips to keep you and your loved ones safe. Make sure to share it with your friends, family, and work colleagues! To access, please the document title: Outdoor-recreational-fire-safty-tips-PDF
We know that accidents still happen even when we adopt safe-fire behaviours and actions. If a burn injury does occur, first aid must be administered, no matter your location. If you do not have access to cool running water for 20 minutes, you must prepare and pack alternatives so that first aid can be provided in a effective, safe and timely manner. We have listed three alternatives to cool running water below:
- Bottles of water: pour water directly over the burn.
- Alternating wet clothes: spray water or wet two cloths and alternate them onto the burn every 30 seconds (re-wet as needed to keep cool).
- Spray bottles of water.
We would appeal to everybody who plan to go camping this winter to ensure that you consider the risks in the environment, prepare and pack first aid supplies and take the time to educate everyone on fire-safe behaviours.
The Our Stories section on our website shares lived experiences of burn injury from both adult and paediatric patients. Through sharing their stories, our patients provide the opportunity to foster a greater understanding in the community of the physical, emotional and psychological impacts of burns.
We want to share two incredible stories to raise awareness of fire pit burn injuries. Burns caused by fire pits can result from contact with flames, coals and heat transference onto other surfaces.
Living rural, Dusty aged two and her family enjoyed spending time around the fire pit which was buried in the ground on their property. After use on the first weekend of winter, her parents removed the excess wood as usual. Unbeknownst to them, 14 hours later, the pit continued to smoulder, and Dusty tripped on the know height fire pit while looking back over her shoulder as she walked.
She landed directly on her hands and forearms, deep in hot coals; she manoeuvred her body and sat in the pit screaming.
In just 60 seconds, our lives had changed forever – Paige Dusty's mum.
Read more about Dusty's story, her burns journey and how she is today by clicking here
Enjoying a night out at her friend's place, huddling around a fire pit, Sarah went to sit down on what she thought was a bench to realise it was an iron frame that had been exposed to 8 hours of heat; she sustained a full-thickness contact burn to 18% of her body.
The recovery from a burn injury starts from the day of the injury and can last several years. In recognition of her strength and resilience during her journey at her 5-year 'burniversary' Sarah acknowledged the milestone by having gold painted on her scars representing Kintsugi, a Japanese tradition and technique used to repair breaks or damages by filling them with gold to strengthen them.
Learn more about Sarah's story by clicking here.
The ANZBA has released the 12th Annual Report (2020-2021) from the Burns Registry of Australia and New Zealand to coincide with National Burns Awareness Month 2022. This report summarises data entered for paediatric and adult patients with acute burn injury who were admitted to one of the 17 specialist burn services in Australia and New Zealand. Staying informed and aware of the causes of burn injury is a essential prevention measure to avoid burn injury. We have summarised the report highlighting the key points that we should all be aware of - you can access this information here.
The 13th Annual Report (2021-2022) from the Burns Registry of Australia and New Zealand is anticipated to be released in the near future.
Gold standard burns first aid
High-quality burns care starts with first aid immediately after a burn injury and is integral in reducing scarring, infections and the need for surgery. Most burn injuries are not intended, and these are often described as accidental, which can be stress-inducing for both the patient and the responder – knowing what to do and how to respond can improve patient outcomes and burn severity.
According to data from the Burns Registry of Australia and New Zealand (BRANZ), in 2020/21, 1,009 children under 15 were admitted to burns units across Australia and New Zealand – approximately 19 per week.
The primary cause of injury to these patients was scalds (49%), in particular scalds from hot drinks such as tea and coffee and food (liquid or solid). The home or usual residence was the most common place of burns or scalds for both children and adult patients (76% and 58%, respectively).
The statistics also reveal that 26% of children and 43% of adults (≥16 years) did not receive the recommended best first aid treatment for their injury, underlining the critical importance of community education on burn and scald first aid.
If you are a first responder or suffer a burn injury, remember that water cooling is critical in the initial first aid response. Water cooling involves applying cool running water to the burn for 20 minutes within three hours of sustaining the injury.
First Aid Rescources: click the title to access
Benefits of cool running water
Burns First Aid Factsheet
Kidsafe Poster: First Aid Treatment for Minor Burns
We developed the Ben and Bella Storybook Series to support children in developing life skills to prevent burn injuries and respond if an accident occurs. Even at an early age, children are quite open and receptive to learning about safety and willing to share their new knowledge and skills with friends and family.
The Ben and Bella superheroes use an engaging and interactive storytelling approach that invites children to spot the dangers and fight the burn bandits. Each stand-alone book centres around the three most common causes of burn injury: scalds, contact and flame burns, and teaches children how to identify the causes of burn injury, prevention and simple burn first aid skills.
We have also developed associated teacher guides that align with the Western Australian Kindergarten Curriculum Guidelines the Western Australian Curriculum (P-2) to support teachers in extending children's learning through activities, experiences and discussion points.
We would love to see Ben and Bella in every home, school and early childhood centre library to support children in developing burns awareness knowledge and first aid skills that they will have for life. Thanks to our partnerChevron Australia's support and their commitment to creating healthier communities the Ben and Bella series has been subsidised to make them accessible to everyone.
- The three-book series and teacher guides inc. post $50
- The three-book series inc. post $45
- A stand-alone book inc. post $25
To join Ben and Bella on their adventures click here.
Social media is a fantastic way to help spread burns awareness and safety messages with your networks. We have linked below some education tiles and story panels that might help you share these messages. Make sure to follow and tag us on Facebook and Instagram! Feel free to reach out at email@example.com to request social media tiles via email.
Outdoor recreational fire safety tips:
Below are resources that raise awareness on burn injury, safety tips and correct first aid treatments. They can be shared between your networks and used as posters in your homes, workplaces, and community spaces. You can also check out resources created by Kidsafe Australia and ANZBA.
Hot Water Bottle Safety