Hot tap water set at 60°C (140°F) will cause a serious burn in less than 1 second, whereas tap water that is set to 49°C (120°F) will take 10 minutes to cause the same damage.
British Columbia adopted national building code standard in 2012 to reduce the risk of scald injuries when bathing or showering. This new code requires that the hot water delivery temperature to bathtub faucets and showers in all newly built or renovated homes is no greater than 49°C (120°F).
How do I check my child’s bath water to make sure it’s a safe temperature?
- If the water temperature feels comfortable on your inner arm or elbow, it is a safe temperature for your child. Bath thermometers that check the water temperature for you are not recommended because there is no way of knowing if they are working properly.
What temperature should my hot tap water be?
What is the factory set temperature for most hot water tanks?
How do I adjust the temperature of my hot tap water?
- This will depend on the type of water tank you have and whether you live in a multiple dwelling such as an apartment. To learn how to reduce the temperature of your home hot water tank to a safe temperature, read this brochure and watch this video.
How can I tell whether I have a electric or gas hot water tank?
- Gas tanks have a temperature dial in front and electric tanks have a metal plate that must be unscrewed to reach the temperature control dial.
Which tank can you turn down?
- Gas - you can do this yourself. Refer to the Owner’s Manual for your water heater.
Which tank has to be kept at 60°C (140° F)?
- Electric - a plumber will need to either install a mixing valve to the water line or replace the existing faucet and shower head with one that contains a mixing valve.Lowering the temperature of an electric tank can lead to the growth of bacteria because the water at the bottom of the tank doesn’t get hot enough.
Why can’t the tank temperature in a multiple dwelling be lowered?
- The tanks are large therefore; the water may not heat up enough to prevent the growth of bacteria. In order to lower the temperature at the taps or faucet, a plumber will have to install a mixing valve to the water line or replace the existing faucet and shower head with one that contains a mixing valve.
My landlord says it’s too expensive to install mixing valves and I can’t afford to do this myself. What can I do to prevent a scald?
- Put a childproof knob cover on the door to the bathroom to prevent your child from gaining unsupervised access to the bathroom.
- Run cold water to cool off the faucet after you have filled the tub.
- After filling the tub, mix the water with your hand to eliminate any hot spots.
- Check the water temperature with your inner arm or elbow before putting your child in the tub.
- Put your child at the other end of the tub, facing away from the tap and stay within arm’s reach at all times!
- Never leave your child unsupervised in the bathtub, even if you are only going to be out of the bathroom for a minute- these injuries happen in seconds!
- Never leave a young child alone in the tub with an older sibling who may turn on the hot water tap in your absence. Teaching pre-schoolers about safety is important but pre-school children often don’t remember, follow the rules and aren’t capable of understand the consequences of their actions.
- If you must leave the bathroom take your child with you.
When can I start leaving my child unsupervised in the bathtub?
- Children mature at different rates. One child may be mature enough at 6 to be left unsupervised, while another child might not be ready until they are 8 and a child with special needs may never be ready.
When your child consistently demonstrates an ability to remember and follow instructions, they are able to manage their impulsivity and make good decisions in everyday situations like crossing the road or waiting until their hot drink has cooled off, they may be ready for this next step.
Hot beverages like tea and coffee are responsible the majority of scalds in young children. Most of these injuries happen during meal preparation when parents are often busy and distracted.
A hot drink, that most adults consider comfortable to drink, will cause a serious scald to a child in 10 seconds.
If the tea is freshly brewed or from an espresso machine, the scald will be instant!
A child’s skin is 4 times thinner than adults. When hot liquids or food is spilled on a child’s skin, the damage moves quickly into the deeper layers of the skin causing serious damage in seconds!
How can I protect my child from a hot liquid spill?
- Use a mug with a screw on lid. If the cup gets knocked over, only a small amount of the hot liquid will spill on your child.
- Keep a travel mug with you when you are out and about. The cardboard cups used by coffee shops are not full proof. If these cups get knocked over, in most cases the lid will pop off.
- Never hold your child or let anyone else hold your child when you are drinking something hot.
- Avoid putting hot drinks or hot food on the table unless an adult present to supervise.
- Use a highchair or playpen in the kitchen when you are cooking so your child is close, but not underfoot.
- Keep all appliances, cords and hot liquids away from the edge of the counter.
- Avoid using mats and table cloths.
- Use the rear stove burners and turn pot handles inward.
- Don’t put treats in cupboards above the kettle, coffee pot or stove.
The glass of a gas fireplace heats up to 200°C (400°F) in just 6 minutes and takes 45 minutes to cool to a safe temperature.
This is hot enough to cause a third degree burn on contact.
Be aware, the fireplace can take as long as an hour to cool down to a reasonable temperature after it has been turned off.
As of January 2015, all gas fireplaces sold in North America must be sold with a safety screen or protective barrier.
How can I keep my child safe around the fireplace?
- Contact the fireplace manufacturer to obtain information on available safety proofing products specifically designed for your unit.
- Some manufacturers already provide heatproof screens with new units and will retrofit these screens to fit older units.
- Be aware the metal frame surrounding the glass gets very hot, therefore, a fireplace safety gate should also be installed if there are young children in the home.
- Keep the remote control (if your fireplace has one) out of your child’s reach.
- Install switch protectors to prevent your child from turning on the fireplace without your knowledge, or don’t turn the fireplace on until your child has gone to bed.
What can I do to keep my child safe when I am in a home where the fireplace is on and there is no protective barrier?
- Keep your child as far away as possible away from the fireplace. Be close, no more than an arm’s reach away from your child at all times
What's the first thing I should do if my child is burned?
- Remove any hot, wet clothing unless it is stuck to the skin, at the same time, find cold water or a cold liquid to immediately cool the skin and any clothing that can’t be removed. Every second counts!
When should I call 911, before or after cooling the burn?
- After! Cooling the skin quickly will help reduce the damage and improves the skin’s ability to heal.
How long should I cool the skin for?
- To prevent further or deeper damage, cool the burned skin for a minimum of 1 minute and/or until it is cool to touch. Your child will be very upset but cool the skin even if it peels or blisters.
- Keeping the burn cooled for up to 10 or 15 minutes may also help ease your child's pain.
- If the burn area is larger than the size of several of your child's palms put together, cool for at least 1 minute, and then call for an ambulance.
- Remember to keep your child warm while cooling only the skin that has been burned to prevent hypothermia.
What should I put on the burn after I have cooled the skin?
- If this is a small burn, cover with a clean face cloth or gauze. If this is a large burn, the size of several of your child's palms put together, cool for 1 minute, cover with a clean dry sheet or towel and call for an ambulance. NEVER put butter, toothpaste, cream, oil or ice on a burn.
Why shouldn't I put ice on a burn?
- The damaged skin needs blood flow in order to heal and repair. Putting ice on the skin causes the blood vessels to constrict and reduces the blood flow to the area.
My mother always told me to put butter on a burn.
- Butter and other home remedies don't have any known benefits and may contain bacteria or inflame and irritate the burn. Also, if your child requires medical treatment, these products will have to be removed so the skin can be properly assessed, and that can be painful.
When does a burn need to be seen by a doctor?
- If the burn is on the face, hands, feet or groin
- If large blisters develop and
- If the burn is larger than the size of a loonie or one inch in diameter.
Should I drive to the hospital myself or call an ambulance?
- If this is a large burn, call an ambulance after you have cooled the burn.
- If this is a smaller burn and you are alone, have a family member, neighbour or friend drive you to the hospital after you have cooled the burn so you can give your child your full attention, otherwise call for an ambulance.
What should I do if this is a minor burn?
- Cool the burn with cold water or cover with a cold cloth for 10-15 minutes.
- Then, apply a mild first aid ointment and band aid to protect the skin.
- Wash the area with mild soap and water and appy a new band aid and ointment every day.
- If the skin becomes red, painful or you see pus, see a doctor.
I don’t see a number on the black strip of the temperature testing card.
Ensure these steps are followed before testing your hot water with the temperature card:
1. Run your hot water tap for 2 minutes to ensure the maximum hot water temperature is reached
2. Fill a cup with the hot water and insert card (3 seconds)
3. Remove card and read number on the black strip of the card.
If the number on the card registers above 60°C (140°F), follow the instructions on page 2 of the Too Hot for Tots! brochure to learn how to reduce your water to a safe delivery temperature.
I followed the steps above but I still don’t see a number on the black strip of the card
The card only reads temperatures between 49°C (120°F) and 60°C (140°F).
If your water temperature is below 49°C (120°F) you will not see a number on the card. Another method of temperature verification, such as a high heat meat or candy thermometer should be used. Water temperature set below 49°C (120°F) can lead to the growth of bacteria in the water supply which can cause serious health issues therefore, the water temperature should be increased.
If the water temperature is above 60°C (140°F) no number will appear on the card until the water has cooled down to 60°C (140°F) or lower.