Going camping? Practice the Circle of Safety

You surely have heard it said before – prevention is the best medicine.  The burn team at our Northern California Shriners Hospital puts these words into practice each day through their devotion to prevention education and research.   As the summer camping season enters full swing, it is our pleasure to introduce you to Dr. Tina Palmieri, our assistant chief of burns and author of the Circle of Safety prevention campaign.  The campaign promotes campfire safety by instructing families to draw a circle of safety around their campfire.

Dr. Tina Palmieri, Assistant Chief of Burns








How did you come up with the idea for the Circle of Safety?The original idea came from one of our database entry analysts. She noticed that virtually all the children treated for injuries sustained when they fell into a campfire were under the age of 3.  As our prevention team discussed the problem, it occurred to us that if a child were kept a distance from the fire matching their height, even if the child fell he/she would not get burned.  Since people often sit in a circle around a campfire, we created the idea of the circle of safety.

How large is the circle of safety? Since most of the young children treated were under 4-feet tall, we recommended that the circle of safety be a 4-foot perimeter around the campfire.

Why do you think it is so effective? First and foremost, it is simple. Second, it solves the problem. The radius of the circle is larger than the height of the average child who falls into a fire.

Do you see more accidental burn injuries during the summer months? Absolutely! Families are on vacation, children are playing outside, and more people go camping.

How did you become involved in prevention research and education? I have always been interested in achieving the best outcome for my patients. Even the best treatment of a third degree burn results in some scarring. The best outcome would be to never get burned in the first place, hence my interest in preventing the very injury that I treat.

What are some of the other burn prevention studies you have done over the years? Our team has looked at fires and injury as depicted in Saturday morning television commercials, soup scald burns from microwaving prepackaged soup, hot water scald injuries occurring in the kitchen, and e-cigarette burns to name a few.


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