Don't ignore the risks associated with camping

PARENTS are being reminded of the risks associated with camping ahead of the peak season for the September school holidays.

At a live fire demonstration conducted today at D'Aguilar National Park, Mt Nebo, Fire and Emergency Services Minister Jack Dempsey said Queenslanders were lucky to have access to many great camping sites, but needed to understand the risks involved with getting back to nature.

"We want to ensure all Queenslanders who choose to camp or visit national parks have a safe school holidays so it's important they're aware of the risks," Mr Dempsey said.

"Burns, encountering a bushfire or injuring yourself while bushwalking or swimming are all real possibilities so I encourage all holidaymakers to be well-prepared before heading on any trip.

"When you're planning your trip, take into account your distance from emergency services and also the likelihood of severe weather, flooding or heightened bushfire risk before you pick a location."

Minister for National Parks Steve Dickson said Queenslanders loved to get out and enjoy the great outdoors but it was important to be prepared.

"Be sure to arm yourself with information about your camping location and the relevant contacts for that site that can help if an emergency arises," Minister Dickson said.

"Once you have set up your site, discuss an evacuation plan with your group so you can be ready to leave at a moment's notice."

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) State Community Education Manager David Sutch today demonstrated how to correctly position, light and extinguish a campfire.

"There are many misconceptions about campfires, but perhaps the most dangerous is that campfires can be extinguished with sand," Mr Sutch said.

"Campfires extinguished with sand can retain heat up to 100 degrees Celsius for eight hours after the flames are no longer visible, and the fire can also spontaneously reignite this way and be disguised to small children and cause significant injury.

"The safest option is to always saturate fires with water and this way they will be cooled to a safe temperature after just 10 minutes and not only reduce the burns risk, but also the risk of sparking a bushfire."

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) Senior Ranger Andrew Kingston said it was important to check alerts before lighting a campfire.

"Only have a campfire if it's allowed at that park or forest," Mr Kingston said.

"Even in a park that normally allows fires, there might be a temporary ban due to high fire danger. Check park alerts at before going into the park."

Royal Children's Hospital Director of Burns and Trauma, Professor Roy Kimble, said the hospital treated about 40 children for burns from campfires each year.   

"About half of these are caused by campfires that have not been extinguished correctly, often occurring the day after the fire has been used, or sometimes two or three days after if sand was used to cover the fire rather than water," Professor Kimble said.

"It only takes seconds for hot coals to cause deep burns.

"In addition to the trauma of the initial injury, if a burn causes scarring, children may require ongoing surgery throughout their childhood to maintain function."

The correct first aid treatment for a burn is to flood the area with cool running water and seek medical treatment immediately by phoning Triple Zero (000). While it is ideal to apply first aid immediately, if running water is not available at the scene, it is still beneficial to apply cold running water up to three hours after the injury.

More information on camping safely.

Topics:  camping jack dempsey outdoor-living safety school holidays

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