Scalding Injuries of Children in Apartment Complexes

To protect people from scalding, the Federal Government has implemented regulations regarding the appropriate temperature delivered from the tap. The maximums vary slightly, depending on the regulator and who is accessing the hot water. In most cases, the top temperature is 120 degrees Fahrenheit. However, these top temperatures are lower for some populations. For example, the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standard (UFAS) limits the top temperature to 105 degrees Fahrenheit, and the Guidelines for Construction and Equipment of Hospital and Medical Facilities sets a ceiling of 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Most state governments give direction on which standard should be followed; however, Kentucky does not currently have its own statute when it comes to the issue.

Getting the Temperature Right

According to the American Burn Association Scald Injury Prevention Educator’s Guide, the most common regulation standard for the maximum temperature of water delivered by residential water heaters to the tap is 120 degrees Fahrenheit. When water is at this temperature, adult skin can be scalded in approximately five minutes. If the temperature is raised to 140 degrees, a burn can happen in just five seconds. With children, these time limits are lessened because their skin is thinner than an adult’s. If a child’s skin is scalded in the bathtub, they are in more danger because they have a limited ability to get themselves out of the water and because the burn is more likely to affect a larger proportion of their body than it would for an adult. Approximately 21,000 kids are treated each year for scald burns. Kids under four have the greatest risk. Young patients account for 65% of the burn-related injuries seen in hospitals. Although most adults can handle a few minutes of 120 degree temperatures, children can’t; 100 degrees Fahrenheit is actually a safer temperature for youngsters. Anti-scald devices and guards are available at  hardware stores and can be attached to a faucet or shower head to help keep water temperatures from getting too high. It is also recommended that caregivers test water temps using a meat or candy thermometer to provide an accurate water temperature reading.

Safety Inside the Water Heater

While scalding injuries need to be prevented once water is released from its source, the other issue with water temperature in apartments and other residences is ensuring that the water is hot enough while it is being stored before use.  Inside the water heater, the water needs to be maintained at 124 degrees Fahrenheit, at a minimum, in order to assure that bacteria does not develop in the unit. Having a water source too cool can allow the Legionnella bacteria to thrive, which can cause Legionnaire’s Disease, a severe type of pneumonia. Those who contract the disease normally do so from 2-10 days after they are exposed, and they may experience headaches, muscle aches, chills, a fever up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit, confusion, cough, chest pain, nausea, and shortness of breath. Those who are smokers, are over 50, or have weakened immune systems may be more vulnerable to the disease. If your child has been scalded due to a defective water heater thermostat or because the hot water heater in your apartment was not properly installed and regulated, or if a family member has suffered Legionnaire’s Disease, the personal injury attorneys of The Johnson Law Firm will be glad to review your case, without charge, to determine whether you might be able to obtain compensation for your injuries.  Contact us by calling 606-437-4488 or by filling out our online form.

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