You Don’t Need a Fire to Get a Burn

You Don’t Need a Fire to Get a Burn

Although indoor plumbing is a magnificent modern convenience, it is not without its risks. Excessively hot water from the tap causes serious burns far more frequently than you might think. Scald injuries are very painful, require prolonged treatment and can result in death. Patients sometimes require admission to the hospital, surgical procedures, and rehabilitation.

Hot liquids can burn a person’s skin just like fire. For example, when tap water reaches 140 degrees Fahrenheit, it can cause a third degree (full thickness) burn in just five seconds. When it reaches 156 degrees Fahrenheit, third degree burns can happen in ONE SECOND. For children under the age of five, these temperatures can cause a burn in half the time because their skin is thinner than that of an adult.

According to the Burn Foundation, over 500,000 scald burns occur every year in the United States, while hot tap water accounts for 17 percent of all childhood scald hospitalizations.

Preventing Scalds & Burns

The good news is that there are some easy things you can do to help prevent serious tap water scalds. The key is a constant safe water temperature. Make sure your hot water heater’s thermostat control knob is set to a maximum of 120 degrees Fahrenheit, which will extend the time before a third degree burn can be suffered to FIVE MINUTES. The knob is on the outside of the tank and simple to adjust. You should not assume that your water heater was preset by the manufacturer at a safe temperature or that it has not been increased by a previous owner, installer or plumber.

There are also tools available to help prevent injury. A pressure-balance control valve can be placed on your water line to react to changes in the pressure of the delivery water. For example, if you’re taking a shower and someone else in the house flushes a toilet, the valve activates to prevent the drop in cold water pressure from allowing more hot water to enter the shower head. Add-on thermostatic-control devices screw onto sink spouts, shower heads and bathtub spigots to stop water that heats up past 114 degrees Fahrenheit. And hotels and apartment complexes generally have combination mixing thermostatic valves installed to help avoid scald burns.

Today is the perfect time to check your hot water heater settings and discuss hot water safety with your family.

If you have any questions about this topic or have been the victim of a burn injury caused by someone else, discuss it with one of the attorneys at the Macon, GA-based Mann Law Firm. We are ready to provide you with a free and confidential initial consultation. Contact us by calling (478) 742-3381 or through our online form.