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In Hot Water

By Jennifer Bradley, Staff Writer

(Page 3 of 3)


The number one preventative measure for scalding is testing the water temperature. If itís too hot, the Burn Foundation recommends setting the water heater thermostat at low, about 120 degrees F, for safety. Few people bathe above 110 degrees F anyhow. A tap water temperature of 120 to 125 degrees F is hot enough for washing clothes and dishes.

To check the tap water temperature, let it run hot for three to five minutes and use a candy, meat or water thermometer. When getting into the tub, move a hand rapidly and carefully through the water flow.  Itís recommended to run the cold water first, and then add hot; for a bath, 100 degrees is sufficient.

Elderly or handicapped people are prone to falling. They should never be left alone in the tub, even momentarily. Non-slip mats on the bathroom floor and in the tub and shower can prevent unnecessary falls.  Mobility problems may prevent getting out quickly, increasing the risk for serious burns even more. If left alone, a loved one may not have an opportunity to escape the source of the scalding.
Not only does reaction time decrease as people age, sensory perception decreases as well. An older person may be bathing in too hot water and not realize it.

If the water that comes out of the tap is too hot, valves can be installed in the plumbing lines to reduce the temperature of the water delivered by mixing in cooler water. Another option is to install anti-scald devices at individual taps and shower heads, which slow the water drastically if it becomes overly hot.
A caregiver can also place a padded safety cover over the tub spout to protect against the sharp edges and hot surface. A washcloth wrapped around the faucet will work well, too.

The American Hospital Association reports that more than 112,000 people are admitted to emergency rooms each year for scald-related injuries. In many cases, these injuries are preventable. A caregiver can take some precautionary measures ahead of time to help keep a loved one safe, yet still able to enjoy the comfort of a hot bath or shower.


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