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Major burn injuries associated with Christmas celebrations: a 41-year experience from Switzerland


Rohrer-Mirtschink, S; Forster, N; Giovanoli, P; Guggenheim, M (2015). Major burn injuries associated with Christmas celebrations: a 41-year experience from Switzerland. 28(1):71-75.

Abstract

In Switzerland it is customary to light candles on Christmas trees and advent wreaths. This tradition leads to an increased risk of home fires. We reviewed the records of patients who sustained burn injuries from a lit Christmas tree or advent wreath during the Christmas holidays between January 1971 and January 2012. We treated 28 patients and observed 4 fatalities (mortality rate: 14%). 61% of the patients were male, 39% were female. The mean abbreviated burn severity index (ABSI) was 6.5 points in the group of the survivors and 10.8 points in the group of the non-survivors. The mean total body surface area burned (TBSA) for survivors was 18.9%, with 14.1% having full thickness burns; for the non-survivors the mean TBSA was 45.2%, with 38% having full thickness burns. The Mann-Whitney U-test showed a significant difference between the survivors and the fatalities concerning the mean total and full thickness burned body surface area (p value 0.009 and 0.012). More than sixty percent of the fires occurred in January and the most severe accidents were seen after January 4th. Despite Christmas decoration-associated fires being relatively uncommon, they tend to cause more serious injuries than regular household fires. We recommend that in countries where it is customary to set up flammable Christmas decorations, state-issued information pamphlets with instructions on fire safety conduct should be distributed.

In Switzerland it is customary to light candles on Christmas trees and advent wreaths. This tradition leads to an increased risk of home fires. We reviewed the records of patients who sustained burn injuries from a lit Christmas tree or advent wreath during the Christmas holidays between January 1971 and January 2012. We treated 28 patients and observed 4 fatalities (mortality rate: 14%). 61% of the patients were male, 39% were female. The mean abbreviated burn severity index (ABSI) was 6.5 points in the group of the survivors and 10.8 points in the group of the non-survivors. The mean total body surface area burned (TBSA) for survivors was 18.9%, with 14.1% having full thickness burns; for the non-survivors the mean TBSA was 45.2%, with 38% having full thickness burns. The Mann-Whitney U-test showed a significant difference between the survivors and the fatalities concerning the mean total and full thickness burned body surface area (p value 0.009 and 0.012). More than sixty percent of the fires occurred in January and the most severe accidents were seen after January 4th. Despite Christmas decoration-associated fires being relatively uncommon, they tend to cause more serious injuries than regular household fires. We recommend that in countries where it is customary to set up flammable Christmas decorations, state-issued information pamphlets with instructions on fire safety conduct should be distributed.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Reconstructive Surgery
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:31 March 2015
Deposited On:15 Mar 2016 14:03
Last Modified:07 Jul 2016 03:07
PubMed ID:26668566
Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-123379

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