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Scalding Prevention

Yvonne Orgill, Chief Executive of the Bathroom Manufacturers Association, discusses the devastating and life-changing effects of uncontrolled hot water.

“At best it’s like being hit by a bus. At worst it can kill you.”

Scalding accidents in the bathroom are surprisingly common. The elderly or the very young suffer the most since their skin is thin, but any one of us can have serious life-changing accidents with hot water. 

Last year, 5,195 children under five, were so badly burnt that they had to be admitted to a specialist burns service. That’s 14 toddlers every single day. Many of these were scalding accidents.*
Scald burns are truly awful. Here are three striking statements, and they are difficult reading, but we should take note:
1. Medical professionals count bath water scalds among the worst injuries that any child can suffer.
2. Uncontrolled hot water can cause severe facial and bodily scarring which can require years, sometimes a lifetime, of painful skin grafts.
3. A scald over more than 20 percent of the body, not uncommon if a child falls into a bath of hot water, has the same impact as being hit by a bus.
Medical professionals count bath water scalds among the worst injuries anyone can suffer. The burns suffered by scald victims are every bit as painful and destructive as those suffered by victims of fires or explosions.

Installers’ responsibilities
These are really sobering thoughts but scalding by uncontrolled hot water from taps and showers simply need not be. Members of the CIPHE will know that scalding accidents and deaths in the bathroom are quite easily preventable. And they know that it is not expensive. It follows, then, that plumbers and installers who have face-to-face contact with the general public have a certain responsibility to promote the use of simple life-saving equipment in the home.

Simple and relatively inexpensive devices – Thermostatic Mixing Valves (TMVs) − can be quickly fitted in either new installations or retrospectively. These devices accurately control the temperature of water for showering, bathing and hand-washing. These valves maintain the pre-set temperatures even if the water pressure varies when other appliances in the building are used. Installed and maintained correctly according to the manufacturer’s instructions, they can significantly reduce the risk of scalding.

There has been a requirement in England since 2010 for hot water temperature control to be fitted to baths in new dwellings, but new washbasin taps are not covered by this legislation. Nor are existing installations.

A recently-launched campaign, created by the Bathroom Manufacturers Association in association with the Children’s Burns Trust, is designed to increase the awareness of TMVs as life savers and encourage their up-take. Simply put, the <Bold next 6 words> Hot Water Burns Like Fire Campaign is aimed at stopping scalding by hot water from taps and showers.

Support the campaign

CIPHE is a partner in the campaign and its members are encouraged to support the it using their influence and substantial ‘clout’ to spread the word, raise much need funds and develop ideas to enhance the campaign’s visibility.

An all-new website, endorsed by Amanda Redman MBE, one of the UK’s best loved actors and herself a scald victim, has been created as an anchor point for the campaign. It is packed with information for kids, families and construction professionals. <Bold web address>
“We need to make everyone aware that the TMV can be fitted in ALL homes and will prevent scalding particularly in the elderly and very young,” says Chris Taylor Hamlin, Technical Director of the Bathroom Manufacturers Association.

The campaign is beginning to gather momentum and the bathroom and kitchen industry is being asked to get behind it, to communicate the simple message, and to help stop these unnecessary and preventable accidents. Plumbers and installers can play their part in spreading the word by advising their customers that it really does make sense to have TMVs fitted.

The message is simple. Scalds can be prevented.