No Flames but is the Campfire Really Out?

Madison, Wisconsin - While flames from a campfire are an obvious danger, a UW Health burn surgeon warns that campfires can stay hot for hours and cause serious burns. 


“We see a significant number of kids who suffer burns from falling into campfire embers,” said Dr. Lee Faucher of UW Hospital and Clinics burn center.


The American Burn Association reports that 70 percent of campfire burns are caused by embers rather than flames.  Campfires retain heat up to 12 hours after the flames go out.


“Children usually burn their hands, arms and knees when they fall into a fire pit with hot embers,” said Faucher. “Sometimes they burn their feet by running through a campfire that they thought was extinguished.”


Faucher said campers should not assume that a campfire was properly extinguished when they arrive at a camp site.  The Burn Association said to completely extinguish the fire and the coals, pour water, stir and pour water over the campfire again until it’s cool.  Campfires should not be buried because they can rekindle and start a wildfire.


UW Hospital burn center sees the most serious burns. Faucher said kids burned by campfires need wound care and sometimes surgery.


“If burned skin blisters, seek medical attention right away,” said Faucher.


The UW burn center is a verified burn center that is credentialed by the American College of Surgeons.  The burn center is part of the hospital’s Level I trauma center for pediatric and adult patients. A Level I trauma center is a regional trauma resource that can provide patients with the most advanced and comprehensive care available.

Date Published: 06/30/2015

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