Protecting your family against burns and scalds

Many of us have cried out in surprise when the water spraying from our shower head suddenly goes freezing cold or piping hot because someone has turned on the kitchen tap downstairs.

It is a common problem with older showers and plumbing systems, and while an icy blast won't do you too much harm, a sudden burst of hot water could cause serious injury, especially in children.

Figures cited by the Hot Water Burns Like Fire campaign show that every year around 2,000 children in the UK are rushed to accident and emergency following scalding incidents in the bathroom.

It takes just one second to get a deep burn in water temperatures of 70C or above, while young children can suffer third degree burns in water temperatures of 60C.

To make sure that you and your family are safe from scalding you can fit a thermostatic mixing valve to your plumbing pipe work or install a new thermostatic shower.

Since 2010 it has been a legal requirement for all new homes in England and Wales to be fitted with these devices, which limit bathing outlet temperatures to 48C. In Scotland similar legislation has been in force since 2006.

Thermostatic valves and showers also ensure that water is maintained at a safe temperature even if the water pressure changes when the toilet is flushed or the washing machine is switched on, for example.

There are, of course, other simple measures you can take within the home to reduce the risk of scalding if you have young children.

For example, never leave them unattended in the bathroom, always run the cold water first when filling the bath and always test the temperature of the bath or shower before your child gets in.

You can also purchase tap guards that can be placed over the hot tap to prevent little fingers from touching the hot metal.

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