Every year hundreds of Canadians needlessly suffer from scalds and burns. Sadly, many are permanently scarred and the medical treatments they must endure are relentless. The most vulnerable are the very young, the elderly and handicapped people.
For a young child the most common type of burn is a scald. The treatment for a serious burn can be excruciating. The injury may become a life long experience of scarring. The most common causes of scalds to a child are; hot tap water, tea, coffee, soup and other hot liquids. A liquid at a temperature of 60 C (140 F) can cause a burn in less than 5 seconds. The kitchen and the bathroom are the most common rooms for these injuries to occur.
Extra caution should be used with children in the home. There are many precautions that can be used in the kitchen to prevent an accident. For instance; when cooking use the back burners first, turn pot handles in so they can?t accidentally be knocked off or pulled off the stove. Keep children away from the cooking areas of the kitchen, keep hot liquids and pots in the centre of the table, and never use tablecloths.
Currently, there are no digital gauges on a hot water tank to indicate the temperature. The thermostat can be set only at; low, medium, or high. You can protect your own family by testing the water temperature yourself. One way to test; run the hot water tap for 5-10 minutes; then check the temperature using a meat or candy thermometer. If the temperature is higher than 49 C (120 F), lower the thermostat. The maximum recommended temperature is 120 degrees.
Gas water heaters can be adjusted easily. If you are adjusting an electric water heater caution should be used; always disconnect the electricity first. Check with your local utility company or an electrician for directions.
In Washington, USA, they have enacted legislation governing the maximum temperature settings of new hot water heater installations and the readjustment in rental units. The Washington statistics indicate there has been a significant decrease in the incidence of scald burns.
For more information on preventing scalds and burns, please contact your local hospital or Mississauga Fire and Emergency Services, Public Education Unit.
Public Education Section Fire Prevention Division