Hot water from bathtubs and showers is the leading cause of burns in the US. Every year, about 34 people will die due to scalding from excessively hot water. There are also about 3,800 injuries annually, with most of those injured from hot water being elderly or children under the age of five. When water is as high as 145 degrees, it only takes 3 seconds to create a partially thick burn. When water is 120 degrees, it takes about 5 minutes to cause a burn. Young children and the elderly are not able to respond as quickly, so they often suffer more serious burns.
Because excessively hot water affects so many people on a yearly basis, many states and communities have taken steps to avoid future injuries. Within the US, countless cities have enacted policies that require buildings to maintain their water heaters at 120 degrees or below.
Making a Change
The simplest way to reduce tap water scalds is to lower the temperature at the source of the water. Many water heater manufacturers have begun following newly implemented policies to reduce the risk of scalds.
The Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association is a trade organization that make gas-fired water heaters. They indicated that all gas units should be preset to 120 degrees. Electronic water heater companies are required to preset their units to 125 degrees, however, there is no proof that these companies are actually following the regulations. In fact, many people are still suffering burns from scalding water. Even if factories do preset their water heaters to the regulated temperature, it does not prevent property owners, installers and plumbers from increasing the temperature.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Public Health Administration have stated publicly that they recommend water heaters be preset at no higher than 130 degrees. Many people want to see legislation passed that requires water heaters to be preset at 120 degrees at the time of installation. People also want the legislation to include that water heater temperatures are checked as part of regular building code inspections.
States Making an Effort
Florida and Washington attempted to take steps to prevent scalding water in the early 1980’s. They each have laws that require water heaters come preset at lower temperatures. The legislation that has already been put into effect has proven to be more effective at preventing injuries than education encouraging parents to turn down water heaters. A study was performed in one state that implemented all water heaters be preset to 120 degrees. The study found an increase in homes with water heaters set to 120 degrees compared to those set to 130 degrees. Nearly all homes that had the water heaters installed at the preset temperature kept the temperature low.
The study also revealed that water heaters preset at that temperature do not present any problems for consumers. People were still able to effectively clean their clothes and dishes, and these safe temperatures should be followed by every building to ensure people are not getting hurt.
If you would like to lower the temperature on your water heater but aren’t sure how, an expert at JMAC Plumbing & Air Conditioning can help you. They even offer 24-hour emergency service, so a plumber can be at your door whenever you need. For more information about Las Vegas plumbing services, contact 702.227.5622.