Did you know that every year, thousands of children and adults suffer accidental injuries due to heating system contact burns and hot water scalds? The 13th October is National Burn Awareness Day, an annual event aimed at reducing the number of burns and scalds occurring in the UK every single day.
A burn or scald injury is for life. The scars are physical as well as psychological, and can present life-long challenges for the individual and their families. What many people don’t know is that very young children and the elderly are the most vulnerable. Both have thinner skin, and may have slower reaction times or lack of communication to let others know they are experiencing pain. The majority of injuries occur as a result of an accident in the home, with many cases avoidable.
NHS Digital has recently revealed its latest Hospital Admitted Patient Care Activity 2020-21 for England, with some worrying results. It found that:
- Between 1st April 2020 to 31st March 2021, there were 812 admissions for burn injuries caused via contact with heating appliances, radiators and pipes.
- A staggering 737 - nearly 91% - of heating appliance burn admissions were emergencies.
- Babies and young children aged 0-4 made up 22% of finished consultant episodes, while those over 70 made up 38%.
- There were 602 admissions from scald injuries from taps.
- Alarmingly, 553 admissions - nearly 92% - were classed as emergencies.
- And sadly yet again, very young children and the elderly are the most at risk, with children in the 0-4 age range accounting for 24% of finished consultant episodes and the over 70’s accounting for 24%.
- Over the last eight years, there has been over 51,000 finished consultant episodes bed days due to scalds and burns combined.
Sadly plumbing and heating systems contribute to a number of avoidable burns and scalds each year. With the heating season upon us, it’s particularly prudent that National Burn Awareness Day highlights the hidden dangers in our homes.
It’s all too easy for radiators, towel warmers and central heating pipes to reach temperatures high enough to cause a burn if touched. Likewise, according to figures from Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), hot bath water is responsible for the highest number of fatal and severe scalding injuries among young children.
However, the good news is that if we open our eyes to the dangers around us, the number of those receiving accidental burns and scalds should fall. And so, when it comes to reducing injuries, the CIPHE has the following advice:
1) When filling up the bath, always run the cold water tap before you turn on the hot tap.
2) If your home does not have them already, installing Thermostatic Mixing Valves (TMVs) will greatly reduce the risk of scalds, as the devices mix water to a safe controlled temperature at the outlet.
3) Remember to have your TMVs (and your plumbing and heating systems) regularly serviced.
4) Upgrade your shower to a model that includes a built-in TMV.
5) Consider installing low surface temperature radiators or radiator covers if you have particularly vulnerable people within your home.
6) Ensure exposed heating system pipes or elements are covered or out of reach of vulnerable householders.
7) If you are concerned about any exposed elements of your heating system, or the temperature of the water from your taps, call in a professional plumbing and heating engineer for guidance on ways to improve the safety in your home. To find a vetted professional in your area visit www.ciphe.org.uk, call 01708 472791 or email email@example.com.
If you are on social media, you can get involved in this year's event too. Simply use the hashtags #BeBurnsAware in your posts to help spread the word.
Find out more on Burn Injury Awareness Day via the Children’s Burn Trust website.
You can find out more on scalding, Thermostatic Mixing Valves (TMVs) and general water safety at on the CIPHE website.