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Burns: Hot Water Safety

Hot water is very dangerous. A child can get a severe burn after only a few seconds in hot water. Burns can be very painful, put your child in the hospital, or even cause death.

Hot water burns happen most often in the bathroom. An accidental fall into a tub of hot water can burn much of your child’s body. Babies and very young children are at the greatest risk because they are not able to get out of the water without help.

Here are some ways to make your home safer for your child:

  • Whenever you turn on water from a faucet, always turn the cold water on first, and then add hot water. If you have both cold and hot water faucets, turn the hot water off first. Teach your child to do the same.
  • Always test the water before your child gets into the tub or shower. Bath water should be around 100°F (37.7°C).
  • Don't let a young child touch faucet handles during a bath.
  • Make sure all faucets are properly labeled “HOT” or “COLD.”
  • Don’t use a hot steam vaporizer. It can cause steam burns. Use a cool mist vaporizer instead.
  • Never leave your child alone in the bathroom for any reason. Your child could get burned by hot water or drown.
  • Set the thermostat on your water heater on low or no higher than 120°F (49°C). Dishes in the dishwasher and the clothes in the washing machine can still get clean in water at this temperature.
    • If you don't know where your water heater thermostat is, or don't know how to set the temperature, call your local utility company to adjust the thermostat. Some companies offer this service at no charge. If you live in an apartment or condo, contact the building manager.
    • After changing the thermostat setting, you can check the hot water temperature by holding a candy or meat thermometer under the faucet with the water running.
    • If you cannot change the temperature of the water heater, you can install antiscald devices on faucets and showerheads. These devices keep the water temperature from getting too hot.

You can get more information from:

Developed by RelayHealth.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.2 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-05-02
Last reviewed: 2014-04-28
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.
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