If you’re going camping these holidays, remember to put out your campfire safely to prevent children from being burned.

Campfires left to burn out or ‘put out’ with dirt or sand are a hidden danger for children over holiday breaks, Kidsafe Queensland warns.

Kidsafe chief executive officer Susan Teerds says in order to keep children safe over the holidays campfires need to be extinguished with water only, not dirt or sand contrary to popular belief.

“The coals will remain hot enough to cause horrendous burns for many hours, even days. Every year, children are permanently scarred, simply because they choose to play in the wrong pile of sand,” she warns.

A campfire covered by dirt or sand, or left to burn out, is hot enough to cause severe burns in less than a second, even several hours later.

Thermal probes show that campfires can reach over 800 degrees Celcius and even when covered with sand a campfire can still measure more than 500 degrees Celcius on the surface with the coals even hours later measure more than 200 degrees Celcius.

However, a fire extinguished with a bucket of water will decrease the temperature to 24 degrees Celcius within minutes and within 10 minutes the coals can be touched by hand- even though it is not recommended.

Brisbane’s Royal Children’s Hospital treats 40 children for burns from outdoor fires every year, with most being caused by glowing coals rather than flames, particularly around the peak Easter and Christmas camping periods.

Teerds says more than half of these children are under five, and more than 80 per cent are under nine, with twice as many boys as girls suffering burns.

“These children will require emergency surgery and skin grafts. They are often permanently scarred and will need expensive ongoing medical treatment as they grow,” she says.

Redland City Deputy Mayor Alan Beard supports the Queensland Government’s new campaign of extinguishing campfires safely to help keep our kids safe.

“During the peak holiday season there can be in excess of 2000 people camping on North Stradbroke Island beaches alone, so this is an important message for residents.”

Cr Beard said not extinguishing campfires safely at popular campsite destinations over the holidays presented considerable safety risks for visitors and residents.

“There have been a number of instances of people being burnt in local camp grounds by campfires that had been extinguished using sand or dirt rather than water,” he says.

He says a fire can continue to hold heat for up to 24 hours and has the potential to burn even though there is no visible fire, when it appears to be put out by sand or dirt.

Redland City Mayor and head of the Redland City Local Disaster Management Group Karen Williams, says campfires also have the potential to spread to nearby bush land, posing a larger fire risk.

“Campfires that have not been extinguished correctly could result in an ember sparking a larger fire, which could then put lives and property at risk,” she says.

Did you know that putting a fire out with sand or dirt wasn’t effective? Are you planning a camping trip for the holidays?