How to Prevent Scald Injuries on Young Children?


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Scald Injury
Scald injury on a young child's hand.

Scalding is a serious matter especially if it involves young children and babies. Scalds are different from burns. Both scalds and burns involve damage to the skin caused by heat. The difference is that burns are caused by dry heat like fire while scalds are caused by wet heat like boiling water.
80% of burn and scald incidence in young children occur at home. 

Of these incidences, 1 out of 4 is admitted in the hospital and 1 out of 5 is admitted due to severe injuries. Scalding incidences on young children especially babies are more serious compared to adults since their skin are much thinner compared to adult skins. They can cause scarring and severe cases would require skin grafting and multiple visits to the hospital which would have a psychological impact on any child.

So how can we prevent scalding on our children especially with regard to our plumbing works? Scalds on young children usually involve hot water. Of these, the majority occur in the bathroom area. This can occur when a child is left unattended when opening the hot water taps or using the bath.

Here are some tips on how we can prevent this from occurring:

1.  Australian standards require that a tempering valve be placed on any hot water system units. A tempering valve helps to regulate the water temperature of the water that is produced by the hot water unit.

2.  Use mixer taps instead of standard taps. Mixer taps mix cold and hot water so as to output the correct temperature of the water. This prevents overly hot water from going out of the taps.

3.  Install child-resistant taps or tap covers so as to prevent your small children from easily opening your taps.

4.  When running a bath for your young ones, run cold water first before running the hot water. Control the temperature by testing it with the inside of your wrist. A safe temperature for bathing your small children is between 37°C – 38°C.

5.  Ensure that water temperature does not exceed 50°C which is the recommended temperature for any hot water. This is the required temperature for any new homes under the plumbing code.

6.  Never leave your child unattended when taking a bath. If you need to leave the bathroom, take your child with you. Never leave the younger children in the care of older children.

Treating scald injury
Treat scalds by running cool water for atleast 30 minutes.

In the case though that a scalding incident has happened to your children, these are the things that you need to do:

1.  Place the scalded area under running cool water for at least 20 minutes. This helps to disseminate the heat from the scalded area to the running cool water.

The burning process does not altogether happen during the scalding incident. It’s the residual heat from the scalded area that causes more damage to the surrounding skins and tissues and to the lower areas of the skin layers.

Do not use ice or ice water since the extreme temperature can further cause damage to the scalded area.

2.  Wrap the scalded wound with a non-stick gauze or non-clinging plastic but do not leave it for more than 3 hours on the affected area.

3.  If the scalded area is 3 cm or more, bring the child to the nearest hospital. If the affected area is on the face, hands, genitals or near the airways, immediate medical attention should be sought.

4.  Never use oil, butter, cream or toothpaste since they seal the heat on the scalded area and cause more damage.

Here is another article that you may find interesting in regards to “Mixer Tap vs Standard Taps”.

If you need help with your existing plumbing fixtures or want your water temperature checked, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 13 10 91. We are serving areas in Canberra, Newcastle, Central Coast, Hunter Valley, Lake Macquarie and Port Stephens.

At The Plumbing and Electrical Doctor, we have made these articles downloadable to PDF for our customer’s convenience.

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