Keeping Children Safe from Scalding Burn Injuries

Young children are susceptible to various hazards that seem to be ever-present, both inside and outside of the home. One of the most common injuries young children endure is found in the bathroom, though few parents consider bathrooms dangerous for children. The ability of hot water to scald the delicate skin of young children occurs too often for various reasons. Scald injuries account for almost 75% of all burns suffered by young children.

Scald burns are caused when steam or hot water come in contact with skin, burning one or more layers. The results can be devastating. Young children are the most susceptible (followed by the elderly) because they have sensitive, delicate skin that burns quicker at lower temperatures than the skin of adults. Also, the ability of children to recognize that water or steam is burning their skin is more delayed than older children or adults.

Tap water burns most often occur in the bathroom and are usually more severe, covering a large portion of the body. The severity of the burns depends on several factors:

  • Length of time the child was in contact with the hot water
  • Area of the body where the burn takes place
  • Temperature of the water
  • Amount of the body area that is burned.

A severe scald burn can mean a long stay in the hospital, repeated painful skin grafts over a course of years, and permanent, disfiguring scarring. It may also require painful skin grafts and years of treatment, and can result in permanent scarring. A severe scald over a large skin area can cause death.

All scald injuries can be prevented, and the most important way to do this is by constantly supervising young children while in the bathroom, and especially in the water. The Better Health Channel has these suggestions as well:

  • Use a bath thermometer to ensure the bath’s water is always a safe and comfortable temperature. (The recommended maximum water temperature for bathing young children is between 37ºC and 38ºC.)
  • A soft bath spout cover and non-slip suction mini bath mats can help prevent falls in the bath.
  • Keep the bathroom door closed when not in use. You may wish to put a lock or restraint on the outside of the bathroom door (out of reach of children, but accessible to adults in case of emergency).
  • Always remain within arm’s reach of children in the bath.

Plumbing standard codes for newly constructed homes require anti-scalding technology and a maximum water heater temperature of 120 degrees F. You may also install anti-scalding devices on faucets and shower heads to prevent these dangerous burns.

Though many times these  injuries are accidental and without fault, some have occurred due to defective shower products or parts that cause water temperature to drastically heat up to scalding temperatures. If you believe a serious scalding burn injury was caused by a defective product or negligence of another, call the Burn Injury Firm at 866-293-2615 to discuss.