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Fires, burns and scalds


Burn or scald injury, also known from thermal injury, can result from contact with smoke, fire and flames, and other heat sources. Thermal injury is among the most serious of injury types as it can result in life-altering disability. While serious, thermal injury is one of the most preventable injuries. Product standards such as flame-resistant sleepwear, hot water standards, and smoke alarms, as well as education and awareness around building, house, and bushfires, are examples of successful prevention strategies for thermal injury. Further, education and awareness of the treatment of burns can substantially reduce severity of injury.


In Australia

Burns and scalds rank 10th in terms of injury burden across the Australian population and accounted for 98 injury deaths from 2017-18. Further, they accounted for 5,853 hospitalisations, making up 1.1% of all injury hospitalisations. While this is a smaller proportion, burn and scald injury has the longest average length of stay in hospital compared to other injury types (4.9 days). Burns and scalds are the 8th leading cause of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) in children, with those under five being most vulnerable. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples accounted for 9% of hospitalised burn cases from 2016-17, with most being children under 14 years. Burn and scald injuries are highest among men, young children, people experiencing social-economic disadvantage, alcohol users, people exposed to unsafe products, and people with sensory deficits or disability.

In Aotearoa New Zealand

There were 651 non-fatal hospitalisations due to burns and scalds in 2018, and 22 injury deaths in 2016. Burns and scalds are the leading cause of injury to children in Aotearoa. On average, 475 children are hospitalised each year as a result of burns or scales, 80% of whom are aged five and under. Other risk groups include Māori (particularly in the under-five age group), and males.

Image by Matt Palmer
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