Dubai: More than 70 per cent of serious burn cases in the UAE involve children, labourers and housemaids, burn centre doctors have said, calling for strict fire safety measures.

According to estimates from doctors at Rashid Hospital in Dubai and Mafraq Hospital in Abu Dhabi, the majority of the serious cases involve these three vulnerable groups.

At Rashid Hospital more than 80 per cent of burn cases are of labourers and housemaids.

In the first half of 2012, Mafraq Hospital received 425 burn cases of which nearly half were of children below 12.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), fire-related deaths rank among the 15 leading causes of death among children and young adults 5 to 29 years old.

The international body advised prevention strategies to address the hazards for specific burn injuries, education for vulnerable populations and training of communities in first aid. It also advised introduction of and compliance with industrial safety regulations, and the use of fire-retardant fabrics for children’s sleepwear.

The issue of fire-related accidents among these vulnerable groups needs to be addressed, said Dr Mohammad Riaz Khan, Specialist Plastic Surgeon at Mafraq Hospital’s Burn Unit.

Speaking to Gulf News, he said, “We need fire safety awareness and related first-aid programmes if we are to lower the current rates of patients who come to us with burns covering more than 50 per cent of the body area.”

He explained that the mjaority of burns are a direct result of home accidents involving hot liquids — beverages, water, etc — being spilt on the child in the bathroom or kitchen, and at times, during contact with hot surfaces like a barbeque pit or an iron.

He said, “Almost 90 per cent of the burn cases in children are related to home accidents.”

Dr Sylvia Angerer, Consultant and Acting Chief of Plastic and Craniofacial Surgery Section at Mafraq Hospital, added that there is a dearth of burn education programmes in the UAE. “Without effective prevention programmes and dedicated treatment facilities in place, the burden of burn injuries will continue,” she told Gulf News.

Dr Marwan Ahmad Al Zarouni, Head of Plastic Surgery Unit and Wound & Stoma Care Unit at Rashid Hospital, told Gulf News: “Due to the limited education, the labourers and housemaids may not be aware of fire safety. We have seen cases ranging from chemical burns from cleaning products to direct flame burns in the kitchen and electric sparks due to faulty appliances.”

Dr Al Zarouni said that labourers and housemaids should be educated on the products and appliances they handle as well as potential dangers.

To prevent burn-related injuries in children, childproofing homes is strongly advised, said Gloria Mankani, owner of Bsafe, a child safety store in Dubai.

She told Gulf News, “Especially in the kitchen, measures should be taken to prevent a child from reaching the stove and kitchen appliances. Parents should also regulate the bath water using a bath thermometer.”