Hot water is a common cause of household injuries in Kansas City. Hot water can be dangerous because it can result in scalds and burns to the skin while people bathe, shower or simply wash their hands. This is especially true with regard to children, who are more vulnerable to those types of injuries. However, there are a number of safety techniques that people can utilize to avoid scalding water and burn injuries.
The main way to avoid hot water injuries is to turn the temperature on the water heater down to below 120 degrees Fahrenheit. A child can get third degree skin burns in two seconds when water is at 150 degrees, but at around 120 degrees inflicting that same injury would take 10 minutes.
If the water heater does not have a temperature gauge, it is possible to adjust the water temperature using a thermometer. The proper way to do this is to let the hot water run for five minutes before testing the temperature. Then the temperature control can be moved up or down as needed. It may take a full day or more for the temperature to finish adjusting, so the temperature test needs to be repeated the next day, and further adjustments may be needed over several days.
People who live in apartment buildings and do not have access to the water heater thermostat are advised to submit a request to management. Tenants should explain that the hot water temperature is hot enough to cause burn injuries, and that it should be turned down accordingly. If management fails to honor the request then they might be held liable for any resulting burn injuries.
When giving baths to children it is good practice to run the bath water before putting anyone in the tub. That will allow the water temperature to even out first and reduce the chances of burns. Infants are extra sensitive to temperature fluctuations so it is a good idea to test the water temperature on the inside of the wrist, which matches a baby's skin sensitivity.
It is also a good idea for young children to wash their hands using only cold water. That way they avoid burns associated with accidentally turning the hot water valve too high.
Source: News Ohio, "Hot water safety tips for parents: How to avoid scalds and burns"