Doctors brace for Aust Day burns spike

Revellers celebrating Australia Day should treat fire with respect, or risk sustaining life-threatening injuries, doctors say.

More than 150 people nationally have sustained burns on January 26 since 2010, according to Melbourne’s The Alfred.

The Alfred’s burns ward was already chocked with patients as of Wednesday and burns surgeon Dane Holden warned flame burns on average made up more than half of admissions on Australia Day.

“Often these injuries are caused by campfires, bonfires or burn-offs – and are extremely debilitating,” Dr Holden said.

“These are life-altering injuries, which often require surgical intervention and lengthy periods of rehab.”

Of the burns sustained on January 26, more than one-third happened while patients were doing a leisure activity or playing and 15 per cent happened while cooking or preparing food and drinks.

Men aged between 20 and 29 made up the majority of patients, according to The Alfred.

Almost one-quarter of Australia Day burns patients since 2010 were injured to at least 10 per cent of their bodies, Dr Holden said.

“If you’re having a barbecue on Australia Day, take an extra few moments to ensure the gas bottle is in safe working order and if you’ve got an open fire going, never add an accelerant to it,” he said.

People drinking alcohol should stay away from fire, with drinking near flames a “recipe for disaster”, Dr Holden said.

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