Recently my 13-year-old son & I went on a camping trip to put his new swag to the test on South Stradbroke Island, QLD. Our father-son bonding time was interrupted early in the trip when he suffered a significant burn to his hand and fingers. The cause… a campfire covered with sand. Whoever was using the camping spot the night before us had decided to extinguish their campfire by covering it with sand.

Interestingly, when telling this story to friends and family, many of them were unaware of the danger of covering beach fires with sand.

So why is covering beach fires with sand so dangerous?

Insulation of Embers: Sand insulates hot embers. When you cover a beach fire with sand, it may appear extinguished from the outside, but underneath, the sand creates an insulating layer that keeps embers red hot. These embers can remain hot for many hours and even days.

Invisible Hazard: When a fire is buried with sand, the danger becomes invisible. People walking on the beach might not realise there’s a hotbed of embers under the sand. This poses a significant burn risk, especially to children or pets who might unknowingly step on the area (exactly what happened to my Son!)

Delayed Re-ignition: The insulated, hot embers have the potential to reignite. A gust of wind or additional combustible material could easily cause these hidden embers to flare up again, potentially leading to a fire that could spread beyond the initially controlled area.

Environmental Damage: Covering a fire with sand might also have environmental impacts. The heat can sterilise the sand, killing microorganisms and affecting the local ecosystem. Plus, remnants of the fire, such as charcoal or debris, can be left behind, polluting the beach environment.

False Sense of Security: Similar to campfires in other settings, covering a beach fire with sand can give a false sense of security. People might leave the site thinking the fire is completely out, not realising they’ve left behind a potential hazard.

Treating burn Injuries.

While prevention is the best approach to ensure safety around beach fires, accidents can still happen. In the event of a burn injury, fast and appropriate treatment is essential to minimise damage and reduce the risk of complications. Here are the steps to follow:

  • Immediately cool the burn with cool running water for a minimum of 20 minutes.
  • If possible, remove all rings, watches, jewellery and other constricting items from the affected area without causing further tissue damage.
  • If possible, remove non-adherent clothing
  • Cover the burn with a loose, light, non-adherent dressing, such as cling wrap or a saline/water-soaked dressing.
  • Where feasible, elevate the burned body parts to minimise swelling.
  • Treat the casualty for shock and maintain their body temperature.
  • Seek Medical Attention: Depending on the severity of the burn, it may be necessary to seek immediate medical attention.
  • Pain Management: Over-the-counter pain relievers can help manage pain and reduce inflammation. Follow the recommended dosage instructions.
  • Stay Hydrated: Burns can lead to fluid loss, so it’s essential to drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated during the healing process.
  • Avoid Popping Blisters: If blisters form, do not pop them. Popping blisters increases the risk of infection and can slow down the healing process.

So how should beach fires be extinguished?

Simple – with water! Pour a significant amount of water over the fire until it is completely out. Allow the water to cover all the hot coals and leave the fire open, do not cover it with sand.

 

About Andy Panes
Empowering individuals and organisations to save lives with comprehensive training and business solutions, professional development and innovative products. Andy Panes | Join me on LinkedIn

Related Post

What is wound glue and how is it used?

What is wound glue and why is it used? Disclaimer – This guide is intended for information purposes only. Professional medical advice should be sought before proceeding with any treatment. Wound closure using medical adhesive should only be performed by a trained medical professional.ย  What is Wound Glue? Wound glue, also known as tissue adhesive […]

read more

Sprained Ankles

A Comprehensive Guide to Sprained Ankles: Causes, Signs, Symptoms, and First Aid Treatment Ankle sprains are a prevalent injury in Australia, with a significant number of cases associated with various physical activities. Sports Medicine Australia reports that over 25,000 Australians sprain their ankles annually, a considerable percentage of these incidences stemming from sports activities. A […]

read more

Everything you need to know about CPR signs for swimming pools

A pool can be a great addition to any Australian backyard, providing a fun and refreshing way to beat the summer heat. However, it’s important to remember that a pool also comes with certain risks, especially when it comes to water safety. Drowning is one of the leading causes of accidental death in children under […]

read more