-- Robert Preidt
SUNDAY, March 31 (HealthDay News) -- Temperatures in home hot
water heaters can be too high and pose a potential scald hazard for
young children and seniors, according to a new study.
In the United States, burns from hot tap water result in about
1,500 hospital admissions and 100 deaths per year. Water at 140
degrees can lead to a serious burn within three seconds, while it
takes 10 minutes for water at 120 degrees to cause a serious burn,
according to the researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School
of Public Health.
Young children and seniors have thinner skin that burns more
quickly, making them more vulnerable.
Even though manufacturers adopted voluntary standards to preset
hot water heaters below the recommended safety standard of 120
degrees, water heater temperatures remain dangerously high in a
large number of homes, the researchers said.
They tested the temperature of hot tap water in more than 700
homes in Baltimore. Despite the fact that 99 percent of the water
heaters in the homes were installed after the voluntary standard
was implemented, hot water temperatures were above 120 degrees in
41 percent of the homes, and at or above 130 degrees in 27 percent
of the homes.
Gas water heaters were less likely to have safe temperatures, as
were water heaters that held fewer gallons per person. The
researchers also found that renters were less likely to have safe
hot water temperatures than homeowners.
The study appears in the March issue of the
Journal of Burn Care Research.
"Delivering hot water at a consistent temperature is difficult," lead author Wendy Shields, an assistant scientist with the Bloomberg School's department of health policy and management, said in a school news release. "As a hot water tank is depleted, replenished and reheated, water temperature will not be constant throughout the tank. In addition, water heater thermostats are not designed to provide precise estimates of water temperatures, making it difficult for residents to assess the exact temperature."
"One potential solution is to equip faucets with anti-scald devices, such as thermostatic mixer valves, anti-scald aerators or scald guards, but until engineering solutions can be implemented on a large scale, attention must be paid to educational messages," Shields said. "To prevent scald burns, families should be encouraged to test hot water temperatures after adjusting gauges to ensure that a safe temperature is achieved."
Safe Kids USA has more about
burn and scald prevention.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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