When you think of household accidents, you probably don’t imagine hot water burns. However, scalding is a real risk, especially for children and the elderly. Children do not understand the dangers of hot water and may play with the shower taps or shower handles. The elderly may have a decreased ability to sense heat, resulting in accidental burns. Both children and the elderly have thin skin, which can exacerbate the seriousness of the burns as well.
Adjusting Your Hot Water Heater
The first way to prevent scalding is to adjust the settings on your hot water heater. Many hot water heaters come with the temperature preset to 140 or 150 degrees Fahrenheit. (CHECK) This is much too hot for a household with children or elderly people, and it is hotter than most people need. To prevent hot water burns, turn the temperature settings down to 118 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This is still very hot, but it will prevent most scalding accidents from occurring.
Installing a Temperature Actuated Mixing Valve
Temperature actuated mixing valves, also known as anti-scald valves, can reduce the variations in water temperature that can cause burns. Hot water heaters can produce hot water that is up to 30 degrees hotter than the temperature gauge indicates. An anti-scald valve prevents these fluctuations by sensing these temperature changes and compensating for them before the water comes out of the tap in shower stalls or bathtubs. The valve is installed on the water heater, so it helps to regulate the water temperature throughout the entire home.
When you purchase this type of valve, look for one that is approved by the American Society of Safety Engineers. A valve that has not been approved may not work correctly or may be more prone to failure.
Installing A Thermostatic Mixing or Pressure Balancing Valve
In addition to installing a safety valve on the hot water heater, you can also install safety valves at each tap. There are three general types of valves available: a thermostatic mixing valve, a pressure balancing valve, and a combination thermostatic mixing and pressure balancing valve. If you are not sure which valve is right for your needs, ask a representative at your local hardware store. He or she may be able to help you make a decision based on your needs and your hot water setup. Like the valve on the hot water heater, these valves should be approved by the American Society of Safety Engineers.
Ensuring Safe Use
Although installing safety devices is helpful, they are not fail-safe. As a result, it is important not to leave children unattended in the bathtub or the shower until you can be sure that they understand how to use the hot and cold water taps and you are certain they are old enough to be left unsupervised. Children may not understand how to use the hot and cold water taps correctly, and they may accidentally burn themselves while attempting to rub a bath or while playing with the taps.
In addition, elderly people with a reduced ability to feel heat, or who have problems working the hot and cold taps also require help starting the bath or shower, even if they do not need assistance with bathing.