School holiday “burnanza”

Sonia Tran1, Monique Bertinetti2

1 The Children’s Hospital Westmead, Cnr Hawkesbury and Hainsworth St, Westmead

2 The Children’s Hospital Westmead, Cnr Hawkesbury and Hainsworth St, Westmead

 Introduction: Anecdotally, a higher number of paediatric burns are referred to the burns unit at the Children’s Hospital Westmead (CHW) during the school holidays. To our knowledge, there is currently no study evaluating burns sustained by school-aged children during the school holidays compared to during the school term. This has the potential to direct timing of burn prevention strategies.

Methodology: An epidemiological analysis of school-aged children was conducted comparing burns sustained during the school holidays to burns during the school term. Data was retrieved from a prospectively collected database. We compared patient demographics, burn aetiology, burn severity, hospital admission, length of stay (LOS) and need for grafting.

Results: 3020 children were referred to CHW between January 2005 and January 2019. 909 children sustained a burn injury during school holidays and 2111 during the school term. The mean number of burns sustained increased from 3.8 children per week during the school term to 5.4 children per week during school holidays (p<0.0001). Contact burns were proportionally more common during school holidays than during the school term (26% vs 19.7%, p<0.0001) whilst the proportion of scalds decreased significantly during the school holidays (43.5& vs 51.4%, p<0.0001). There was no difference between mean age, % total body surface area, admission rates, LOS or grafting rates.

Conclusion: Burn injuries amongst school-aged children are more common during the school holidays. Increased burn prevention campaigns in the period approaching the school holidays may be more effective in raising public awareness and reducing burn injuries amongst school aged children.


Sonia Tran is currently the Burns Fellow at the Children’s Hospital Westmead.