Tyler, Texas


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Bruce Roberts
Bruce Roberts
Contributor •

Tap Water Burns

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Almost every day nearly 300 children end up in emergency rooms around the country suffering from serious burns caused by tap water that is simply too hot. It only takes a few seconds for a child or an elderly person in water with temperatures about 130 degrees to be severely burned requiring hospitalization, skin grafts, and lifetime scars.

Too often when these events happen, it is the parents or the elderly themselves that are blamed for this tragic accident. The truth is, however, most people do not understand or appreciate the fact that their own household tap water can become so hot that it can scald, scar, burn and even kill.

According to data from the National Safe Kids campaign, hot tap water accounts for nearly one-fourth of all scald burns among children and is associated with more deaths and hospitalizations than other hot liquid burns. . Ninety-five percent of these scalding’s occur in residential settings with 54 percent in apartment homes and 46 percent in single homes.

On the other hand, the manufacturers and installers of hot water heaters, the builders of the homes that contain these hot water heaters as well as the apartment complex owners that contain these hot water heaters do in fact know or should know of these dangers. Yet they take no action to prevent these horrible but unnecessary injuries. The cost of an anti-scald device on a bathtub faucet is about $30.00, yet they won’t spend the money.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission, the commission in charge of dangerous and unsafe products, has suggested that water heaters be set on the maximum temperature of 120 degrees. Unfortunately, this is at best a suggestion and not even a particularly good suggestion. Exposure to water over the temperature of 120 degrees can still result in third-degree burns if the person is exposed to that temperature for approximately ten minutes.

Until the manufacturers and installers of hot water heaters are held legally accountable these injuries will continue.