Be campfire safe this Easter break

22 March 2016

Easter holidays is peak camping season across the state, and Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) has joined forces with Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) and Children’s Health Queensland to remind holiday-goers of the importance of campfire safety.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) State Community Education Manager Alan Musk said while lighting a campfire and sustaining it may appear a seemingly straight forward task, the safe assembly, ignition, monitoring and extinguishing of the fire was of the utmost importance.

“The Easter break is a popular time for family camping trips and there is no denying that the toasty crackle of a campfire adds to the outdoor experience,” Mr Musk said.

“However, if started, maintained or extinguished incorrectly, campfires both lit and smouldering, can prove extremely dangerous.

“While the flames may be out, campfires extinguished with sand can retain heat up to 100 degrees Celsius for eight hours after the flames are no longer visible, and the fire can also spontaneously reignite this way.

“The safest option is to always saturate fires with water and this way they will be cooled to a safe temperature after just 10 minutes and not only reduce the burns risk, but the risk of sparking a bushfire, too.”

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) Senior Ranger Andrew Kingston said it was important to always check alerts before lighting a campfire.

“We want people to enjoy Queensland’s parks and forests, whether they’re heading to the bush or beach for holiday camping, or visiting for a picnic and a hike,” Mr Kingston said.

“Please be mindful of the safety both of yourselves and others around you.

“Find out whether campfires are permitted before you go to a park or forest.

“Observe fire bans, never leave a fire unattended, keep the fire small and well contained, use fire places and fire rings where provided, and ensure tents and other camping gear are at least three metres away from a fire.”

Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital Director of Burns and Trauma, Professor Roy Kimble said the number of young burns victims had increased in recent years with several children permanently scarred last year simply because they simply chose to play in the wrong pile of sand.
“In 2015, we treated 55 children for burns from outdoor fires, with 40 of those injuries caused by glowing coals or ashes rather than flames,” Professor Kimble said.

“Almost one quarter of these required surgery and more than 90 percent were under nine.”

“In addition to the trauma of the initial injury, if a burn causes scarring, children may also require ongoing surgery throughout their childhood to maintain function in the injured limbs.

The recommended first aid treatment for a burn is to place the injured area under cool running water for 20 minutes and seek medical treatment immediately by phoning Triple Zero (000).

While it is ideal to apply first aid immediately, if running water is not available at the scene, it is still beneficial to apply cold running water up to three hours after the injury.

For more information on camping safely, visit: https://www.qfes.qld.gov.au/communitysafety/leisure/camping.asp