Are you burns aware?

burns and scalds

In Burns, Heating, Scalding, Scalds

National Burn Awareness Day on 13th October is here to remind us that every home holds a host of hidden dangers. With the heating season upon us, it’s the perfect time to make sure your plumbing and heating systems are safe for everyone in your household.

Sadly, 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, hot bath water is responsible for the highest number of fatal and severe scalding injuries among young children. NHS Digital has recently revealed its latestHospital 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 finished consultant episodes 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 finished consultant episodes - 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.

A burn injury is for life, with scars that are physical as well as psychological. Burns and scalds often result in life-long challenges for the individual and their families, making it all the more tragic that the majority of injuries occur as a result of an accident that could have been prevented. Medicalprofessionals count bath water scalds among the worst injuries anyone can suffer, with scalding injuries every bit as painful and destructive as burns suffered by victims of fires or explosions. 

Kevin Wellman, CEO of the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE) said, “It’s never been more important that households - especially those with the elderly, disabled or young people - know the risks posed by contact burns and scalding. Heating season is upon us, so now is the time to take action to ensure your heating and hot water systems are safe.”

“The statistics from NHS Digital show the most vulnerable in society continue to be at a grave risk of hospital admission due to household scalds and burns. The majority of these injuries would have been avoidable if everyone knew the risks. It’s vital we raise knowledge around burns and scalds so everyone knows the measures they can take to protect their loved ones. These include fitting Thermostatic Mixing Valves (TMVs) and making any exposed hot appliances, radiators or pipework safe.”

The good news is there is much you can do to help safeguard your home. The CIPHE advises:

  1. Installing low surface temperature radiators or radiator covers if you have particularly vulnerable people within your household.
  2. Ensuring any pipework that reaches high temperatures is inaccessible to young children or vulnerable householders. 
  3. When filling up the bath, always run the cold water tap before you turn on the hot tap.
  4. 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. Remember to have your TMVs (and your plumbing and heating systems) regularly serviced. Also, upgrade your shower to a model that includes a built-in TMV.
  5. 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, call 01708 472791 or email

You can find out more on scalding and general water safety at



NHS Digital notes for editors:

Finished consultant episode (FCE) is a continuous period of admitted patient care under one consultant within one healthcare provider. FCEs are counted against the year in which they end. Figures do not represent the number of different patients, as a person may have more than one episode of care within the same stay in hospital or in different stays in the same year.

Finished admission episodes (FAE) is the first period of inpatient care under one consultant within one healthcare provider. FAEs are counted against the year in which the admission episode finishes. Admissions do not represent the number of inpatients, as a person may have more than one admission within the year.

Mid And South Essex NHS Foundation Trust (RAJ) has notified NHS Digital of a data quality issue with diagnosis data it submitted. Although it was not possible to correct the issue in time for publication, NHS Digital will re-process and update the data following publication. Please note that diagnosis data in this publication are therefore provisional until the data are rectified.

Hospital Episode Statistics are compiled from data sent by more than 180 NHS trusts in England and over 300 independent providers for activity commissioned by the NHS.