Enjoy the barbecue, not a hospital stay this summer

Wednesday, 22 December 2021 at 3:43 am

A spate of severe and larger than normal injuries caused by barbecues has burns experts urging caution around barbecues this summer.

Alfred burns surgeon Dane Holden said the number of patients admitted to the Victorian Adult Burns service each summer for barbecue related burns continues to be a major concern.

“This time of year, we get quite nervous because we typically see a rise in the number of patients admitted with burns caused by barbecues,” Dr Holden said.

“They also tend to be much more serious burns - on average, burns from barbecues impact six per cent of the body, which is twice the average size of burns of the general burn population.

“Typically, they result in longer hospital stays and impact the upper body, face and neck.”

Over 80 per cent of cases were caused by somebody throwing an accelerant such as methylated spirits over the fire.

“Accelerants are incredibly dangerous and when added to a flame, almost become a weapon,” Dr Holden said.

Royal Children’s Hospital Director of Trauma Dr Warwick Teague added that children are also common victims, having treated children as young as one year old following an incident with a barbecue.

“The injuries we typically see with children is from either touching a hot barbecue or being nearby when accelerant is added,” Dr Teague said.

“There are potential devastating long-term consequences from these types of burn injuries, particularly hands and faces.”

“If a burn occurs, it’s critical that cool running water is applied to the burn area for a minimum of 20 minutes.”

CFA Deputy Chief Officer Garry Cook reminded Victorians that barbecue injuries can also happen outside the home environment.

“Check fire restrictions and weather conditions, use purpose-built fireplaces if provided, ensure there is no flammable material within three-metres of the fire, and never leave a campfire unattended.

“Uncontrolled fire can not only cause you serious injuries, they can also start a bushfire with devastating consequences for the community.”

With recent restrictions, many barbecues haven’t been fired up for over a year and Fire Rescue Victoria Deputy Commissioner Fire Safety Michelle Young said it was vitally important that people checked their barbecues for gas leaks beforehand.

“As we all know, gas is invisible and a small hole in your hose or a loose connection could result in gas escaping and causing a nasty burn when you’re cooking.”

“Spray the hose and connections with soapy water before turning the barbecue on, and if bubbles appear you’ll need to either tighten the connection or replace the hose.”

“It is also important to regularly clean your barbecue as excess grease and fat build up can cause a fire.”