Petrol-related burn injuries presenting to the Victorian Adult Burns Service

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Sadhishaan Sreedharan
Hana Menezes
Heathe Cleland
Stephen Goldie


rural, male, burns, accelerant, petrol


Introduction: Burns fuelled by petrol are a major cause of injury in Australia and New Zealand. The same quality of explosive ignition that makes petrol so valuable as a fuel can cause injuries when handled carelessly or used for a purpose for which it was not intended.

Methods: This was a retrospective cohort study that examined the epidemiology of patients admitted to the Victorian Adult Burns Service (VABS) based at the Alfred Hospital, Melbourne. Data were extracted from the VABS Database on patients presenting over a seven-year period, between 1st July 2009 to 30th June 2016. 

Results: During the study period, 378 out of 1927 burns (19.6%) admissions were related to petrol use. Males aged 20 – 29 years were most at risk, contributing to 25.4% of petrol related burn injuries. A large portion of burns, 31.0%, occurred during a leisure activity. The mean total body surface area burnt in this cohort was 19.3% and surgery was required in 70.4% of cases. Petrol related burns injuries is estimated to cost AU$ 5,484,834 annually and had a mortality rate of 7.4%.

Conclusion: Misuse of petrol contributed to a substantial injury burden to Victorians. Raising community awareness through preventive strategies targeted at high-risk groups of at-risk behaviours is warranted to reduce the incidence of petrol related burn injuries.

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