Hot water scalds account for 20% of all burns and every year more than 2,000 U.S. children are treated for scalding. Scalding can also lead to secondary injuries such as heart attacks, falls, and broken bones, particularly among the elderly. Most scalding accidents occur in the kitchen and bathroom, and the vast majority are avoidable.
Because infants, children, and the elderly are especially vulnerable to burns when exposed to overly hot water in the bath, one of the most important ways of preventing scalding is to ensure your water heater temperature is set to a safe temperature. In addition, you should always check the water temperature before placing a child in the bathtub and never leave a child alone or with other young children in the bathtub.
Most water heaters come factory set between 120°F to 140°F - this temperature may be too high for many households. The chart below shows how the scalding risk and time it takes to cause a burn.
|Water Heater Thermostat Setting||Exposure Time||Effects of Exposure to Hot Water at High Temperatures|
|Water at 100 degF or below||-||Most water heaters are unlikely to scald an adult|
|Water at 120 degF||5 minutes||2nd & 3rd degree burns on adult skin|
|Water at 130 degF||30 seconds||2nd & 3rd degree burns on adult skin|
|Water at 140 degF||5 seconds||2nd & 3rd degree burns on adult skin|
|Water at 150 degF||1.5 seconds||2nd & 3rd degree burns on adult skin|
|Water at 160 degF||.5 second||2nd & 3rd degree burns on adult skin|
Scald Protection Devices
Scald protection devices are a must in homes with young children, the elderly and physically challenged. In many areas, they are required to be installed to meet code requirements. While caution is the first line of defense to scald prevention, scald protection devices can help to maintain safer water temperatures.
Have questions about preventing hot water scalding in your home? Call Ostrom, we can help answer all your plumbing questions.