Tap water scald burns account for 7% to 17% of all childhood scald burns that require hospitalization. Often the burns are severe and disabling. Toddlers and preschool children are the most frequent victims. In 45% of the injuries, the unsupervised victim or a peer turned on the tap water; in 28% the cause was abuse. Eighty percent of the homes tested had unsafe bathtub water temperatures of 54 C (130 F) or greater, exposing the occupants to the risk of full-thickness scalds with 30-second exposure to hot water. Such burns may be prevented passively by limiting household water temperatures to less than 52 C (125 F). New water heaters could be preset at this temperature and families could be taught to turn down the temperature on existing units.
- Received October 1, 1977.
- Accepted December 25, 1977.
- Copyright © 1978 by the American Academy of Pediatrics