Are Your Children at Risk for Scalding Injuries?

When you think about the dangers to children in your home, you probably consider the well-known risks, such as choking hazards, top-heavy furniture or electrical outlets. Yet, there’s another risk lurking in many of our homes, one that might surprise parents. Hot liquids cause hundreds of serious burns every year in Indiana.

These injuries, known as scalding injuries, are very common. Here are some fast facts that all parents should know:

  • Every year, over half a million scalding injuries occur in the United States.
  • Scalding is the leading cause of burning injuries in children under the age of four.
  • In 2013, there were more than 5,000 scalding injuries treated in emergency departments in Indiana, 1743 of which were among people ages 19 and younger.
  • These injuries are more likely to occur in low-income housing.

Dangerous Temperatures in Relation to Scalding Injuries

If a liquid reaches a certain temperature, even the slightest contact can result in a scald burn.

  • Just one second of exposure to liquids at 156 degrees can result in scalding.
  • Two seconds of exposure to liquids at 149 degrees can result in scalding.
  • Five seconds of exposure to liquids at 140 degrees can result in scalding.
  • Fifteen seconds of exposure to liquids at 133 degrees can result in scalding.

Children are more vulnerable to scald burns than adults. Even temperatures lower than those listed above can present risks for young children.

Burn Injury Awareness Week

Burn Injury Awareness Week is observed during the first week of February. It is a much-needed campaign. Burn injuries, including scalding, are more likely to occur in winter months. Burn Injury Awareness Week gives us the perfect opportunity to alert our children to the dangers they face and to make sure that our homes are as safe as possible.

We suggest you follow these safety tips to prevent scalding injuries…

  • Make sure that your home’s water heater produces water at temperatures no greater than 120 degrees.
  • When drawing a bath for children, check the temperature to be sure that the water doesn’t exceed 100 degrees.
  • Consider installing anti-scald devices on faucets and shower heads in your home.
  • For those living in apartment or rental units, talk to your landlord if water temperatures exceed the temperatures listed above.
  • Be especially mindful of water temperatures after a new water heater has been installed. It is not uncommon for installers to set the temperatures too high or fail to check heat levels on a new unit.
  • Teach your children to stay away from stovetops or ovens when you are preparing meals. Consider using non-slip mats around cooking areas to reduce the risk for both falls and burn injuries.
  • Keep hot liquids such as coffee away from young children. Temperatures of coffee can range up to 160 degrees, and even brief exposure can cause terrible injuries to children.
  • If you hire a babysitter or caretaker for your children, be sure to review safety protocols to avoid burns and scalding injuries.

Reducing the temperature of water in your home is not only good for the safety of your children, it will also save you money. Unfortunately, many apartment complexes aren’t as thorough as they should be when adjusting temperatures of water-heaters. To be sure that your residence is safe, check the hottest water temperatures regularly and don’t be afraid to talk to your landlord if you see burn risks.