Background Our experience in Victoria is that burns related to petrol fires are a major cause of injury that would be better prevented. The explosive ignition that makes petrol so valuable as a fuel can cause injuries when petrol is handled carelessly. The authors believe these injuries could be prevented with better consumer education and regulation of petrol use.
Methods We retrospectively carried out a cohort study examining the epidemiology of patients admitted to the Victorian Adult Burns Service (VABS). Data were extracted from the VABS database on patients presenting over a seven-year period.
Results We found that 378 out of 1927 burns admissions (19.6%) were related to petrol use. Males aged 20–29 years were most at risk, contributing to 25.4% of petrol-related burn injuries. Alcohol was a factor involved in 21.2% of cases. The mean total body surface area (TBSA) burnt in this cohort was 19.3%, and surgery was required in 70.4% of cases. Petrol-related burn injuries are estimated to cost AU$5,484,834 annually and have a mortality rate of 7.4%.
Conclusion Misuse of petrol contributes to a substantial injury burden for Victoria. Approximately 20% of admissions to The Alfred burns unit are petrol related, 70% need surgery and nearly 7.5% of these patients die.
Learning Outcomes Identifying petrol burns as a major healthcare crisis in Victoria, and the key demographics involved, has allowed us to engage with the Country Fire Association through the Victorian Burns Prevention Partnership, to produce public awareness campaigns.
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