What you need to know
Lots of scalds happen in the bathroom when:
- a child is placed in a dangerously hot bath
- hot water is added once the child is already in the water, and he puts a hand or foot under the running hot water
- water in the bath hasn’t been swirled, so there are hot and cold areas
- children turn on the taps themselves.
Bath temperature for children is best between 37°C and 38°C (36°C for a newborn). Any cooler than 37°C isn’t recommended, because it can lower your child’s normal body temperature.
A child can be severely scalded in under a second when the water temperature is around 65°C, which is a common temperature setting for hot taps in many Australian homes. Setting a maximum of 50°C is much safer – at this temperature, it takes five minutes to severely scald a child.
Tips for safe water temperature
Here are some easy ideas for preventing scalds in the bath:
- Turn down the thermostat on your hot water system to 50°C, a low-risk temperature for hot water burns. If you’re not sure how to do this, a plumber or electrician can help.
- Install a device that lets you regulate the temperature of the hot water. These are available from hardware stores and can be installed without a plumber.
- Consider child-resistant taps or tap guards in the bath.
Different hot water systems
Gas hot water systems without a specific temperature can usually be turned down by setting the thermostat between low and medium. Wait a day before you check the water temperature again. Call your heater manufacturer, local gas supplier or gasfitter for more information.
Electric hot-water systems can be adjusted. Contact the manufacturer, a qualified tradesperson or an electrician for more information.
Solar or slow-combustion hot water systems can’t be adjusted. Contact the manufacturer for more information.
Plumbers can install various devices to keep water at a safe temperature. You might like to consider putting in a single-lever mixer tap with a lock that prevents the hot water being turned on fully, or a flow-reduction device that reduces flow if the water gets hotter than the set temperature. Other options include a tempering valve which sets the water to a maximum of 42°C or 43°C, or a thermostatic mixing valve that fixes the temperature of the hot water.