Stop hidden hot water dangers lurking in your home

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – More than 500,000 scald burns happen each year in the United States.

The groups most at risk, young children, and older adults. These injuries are 100 percent preventable.

Doctors say it takes just seconds for a third-degree burn to happen in scalding water.

Hot Water Causes Third Degree Burns…
…in 1 second at 156º
…in 2 seconds at 149º
…in 5 seconds at 140º
…in 15 seconds at 133º

Hot water can come from your tap or shower head if your water heater is set too high.

Dr. Rinker is a dermatologist and knows the emotional and physical impact a burn can have.

“Certainly scaring is the most visible. I have seen adults that have burns as children, and that is not only disfiguring but it can be disabling,” said Dr. Rinker.

Dr. Rinker said you need to check your water heater and make sure it is set no higher than 120 degrees, especially if you have small children in the house.

According to the burn foundation, the following tips can help you keep your family safe.

Keep hot liquids out of the reach of children

  • Babies, the most frequent victims of hot liquid scalds, need only a split second to grab a coffee cup or bump a sipping parent’s arm. Spilled hot coffee or tea, usually hotter than 160º, will cause severe injury.
    Toddlers can spill hot liquids by pulling at tablecloths, pot handles, and cooking appliance cords. They may be underfoot while you’re carrying pots around the kitchen.
    Protect babies or toddlers by placing them in a high chair or playpen during cooking and coffee hours.

Supervise children and older people in tub baths

  • Young children are able to turn on the hot water by themselves. Elderly or handicapped people are prone to falling. They should never be left alone in the tub, even momentarily. Always test their bathwater: it should be about 100º.

Set water heater thermostat to a safe level

  • Most water heaters are set to heat water well above 140º. But a tap water temperature of 120º to 125º should be hot enough for washing clothes and dishes. And few people bathe at temperatures above 110º. Set your water heater thermostat at low, which is usually about 120º – for safety, and to save 18% of the energy used at 140º. (Although many automatic dishwasher instructions suggest 140º, cleaning is usually satisfactory at much lower temperatures.) If you live in an apartment, and the water is too hot, show this folder to your landlord, and ask that the water temperature is lowered.

Check tap water temperature

  • Let the hot water run for three to five minutes. Test the temperature with a candy, meat or water thermometer. Set the temperature on your water heater thermostat. Wait a full day to allow the water temperature to change, then re-test and re-adjust the thermostat, is necessary.

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