The Alfred burns team and the Country Fire Authority (CFA) are urging people across the state to take care around fire this weekend or risk a lengthy stay in hospital - or worse.
Heather Cleland, Director of the Victorian Adult Burns Service at The Alfred, implored people once again not to use accelerants if they were planning a fire this weekend, after a recent study showed nearly 20 per cent of burns admissions related to accelerant use.
"Whether you're planning a bonfire, a campfire, a barbecue or a firepit this long weekend, be careful around the fire and do not use accelerants," Miss Cleland said.
“Every long weekend, we see people with serious injuries caused by using accelerants around fires. Surgery is required in 70 per cent of cases. And tragically, seven per cent of cases were fatal.”
Michael Walker knows all too well how badly a simple fire at home can turn out.
Two weeks ago, Michael was celebrating his birthday and the easing of COVID-19 restrictions at home with a few friends. The plan was to enjoy a few pizzas cooked in his new pizza oven, catching up around an open fire in the backyard. But disaster struck when Michael lost his balance and fell backwards into the fire drum. Luckily, his quick-thinking mate pulled him out, poured cold water over him from an esky, and rushed him inside into a cold shower.
After a two-week stay in The Alfred burns unit, Michael has shared his story in the hope it will make others think twice when they're near a fire.
"I never, ever thoght that something like this would have happened that night, you just don't even consider it," Michael said.
"I'm so lucky that it didn't end worse. People need to respect fire, and be careful."
CFA CO Steve Warrington said with people able to be out and about following the easing of some COVID-19 restrictions, and winter also kicking in, there would be a seasonal increase in recreational fires.
“With restrictions easing, we understand many people want to get together this long weekend and have a barbecue, or sit round a fire pit at night,” he said.
“What I’d ask all Victorians to do is just be aware of the dangers open fires or barbecues can cause – even in winter.
“It sounds obvious, but please don’t use petrol or other liquid fuel as an accelerant. Every year we attend incidents like these, and believe me, they cause significant, lasting injuries to those involved, not just property damage.
“Please supervise your kids around all fires and make sure fires are extinguished before going to bed. Together we can make our Queen’s Birthday long weekend a safe one.”