Be burns aware

burns and scalds

In Burns, Health, Scalding, Scalds, Healthcare, Public safety

Home is where the heart is, it’s where you are meant to feel the safest. However, according to the latest hospital admission statistics from NHS Digital, the average home holds a host of hidden dangers, especially for the young and the elderly.

NHS Digital’s admission figures show the most vulnerable in society continue to be at a grave risk from household scalds and burns. Scalds from tap water posed a significant issue for the old and young in 2018-19, with:

  • 34% of scalding admissions were aged 9 years or under
  • Nearly 19% of scalding admissions were aged 60 years or over.

Staggeringly, if you combine the figures for those over aged 60 years and those aged 9 and under, it equates to 53% of the overall statistics, whilst those age groups make up just 24% of the UK population.

Sadly, this is not new news. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) states ‘Hot bath water is responsible for the highest number of fatal and severe scalding injuries among young children. Around 500 children, mainly under fives, are admitted to hospital and a further 2000 attend A&E departments every year as a result of bath water scalds.’

RoSPA figures also show that the elderly are five times more at risk of a fatal burn or scald injury than the general population. And it’s not just hot water causing problems, it’s all too easy for radiators, towel warmers and central heating pipes to reach temperatures high enough to cause a burn if touched.

In fact, NHS Digital’s admission figures also showed that:

  • 29% of admissions for contact burns from heating appliances, pipes and radiators were aged 9 years and under
  • 40% of admissions for contact burns from heating appliances, pipes or radiators were aged 60 or over.

This paints a truly alarming picture. To put it in perspective, medical professionals 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, “I find it unacceptable that so many innocent people are suffering scalds and burns. The majority of scalding incidents can be avoided; however a lack of legislation and general knowledge continues to hinder efforts to eliminate these incidents. In my opinion, it is unforgivable that Government officials have continued to avoid taking responsibility for household burn and scald injuries.”

“The CIPHE’s perspective on this is clear. We need to reduce the risk by raising general awareness of the dangers in our homes, we need to change legislation to enforce the use of protective devices such as Thermostatic Mixing Valves (TMVs) - which blend hot and cold water to a safe, controlled temperature - and we need to ensure that all those working on plumbing and heating systems are qualified and competent to do so.”

While it is a legal requirement that baths in new-build homes have a TMV installed, it is not a requirement in older properties. The CIPHE is urging the Government to extend the legislation to make their use compulsory in all homes.

If you are concerned about the temperature of the water from your taps, your local plumbing and heating professional can offer guidance on TMVs and ways to improve the hot water safety in your home. To find a professional in your area visit, call 01708 472791 or email

Find out more on scalding and general water safety.