According to the University of Missouri, almost 2 million people are treated annually for burns in the US. Of these, about 112 000 cases are scald burns caused by hot water. Although many people associate burn injuries with fires, the National Safety Council reports that the US has the highest rate of burns in the industrialized world, and a good portion of those burns are caused by something as simple as hot water.
According to Safe Kids Coalition, about 37,000 of scald burn victims are 14 years of age or under, and about 18,000 scald victims are 5 or under. Reports note that when it comes to scald injuries to minors and children, the culprit is often as simple as hot baths. The University of Missouri reports that about half of childhood scald injuries occur because parents place their children in bath water that is too hot. In some cases, though, scalding occurs because children turn on the faucet or because they fall into water that is too hot. Some scalding are the result of child abuse.
Since children have thinner skin, they can burn faster. In fact, burns are the second leading cause of death for children between the ages of 0 and 5, according to some reports. Each day, across the country, 300 children are admitted to emergency rooms for scalds and burn injuries caused by hot water. Each year, 3000 of these patients require hospitalization for their injuries.
Water heaters may be a culprit. Most heaters are automatically set at 140 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit. A child placed in water that is 150 degrees will develop third degree burns in 2 seconds after submersion. At 140 degrees, it will take 5 seconds to develop the same injuries. If the water is at 130 degrees, it will take the child 30 seconds to develop third degree burns. In cases where a product defect is making the water hot, the water temperature of a household may be even hotter.
Experts suggest that parents turn down the water temperature of their water heaters. It is best to check the heater in the morning, before the hot water has been used. To test the warmth of the water, turn on a hot water tap for two minutes and hold a candy or outdoor thermometer in the stream of water. If the temperature is higher than 120 or 125 degrees, turn down the water heater thermostat. Wait 24 hours and retest the water. If you are unable to bring down the heat of your water, call a professional. You may have a defective product or mechanical problem with your heater.