BURN PREVENTION

HOT WATER BURNS LIKE FIRE 

The BC Professional Fire Fighters Burn Fund has given $75 thousand to the 'HOT WATER BURNS LIKE FIRE' program.

The grant will cover costs for distribution of information brochures, and further the work the Burn Fund does with burn injury prevention awareness in the province.

Our sincere thanks to Telus Prince George for its generous donation to help pay for the production and distribution of program test cards.

ABOUT SAFE START / HOT WATER BURNS LIKE FIRE

Injury is the single greatest cause of hospitalization and death for Canadian children. Unintentional injuries such as burns, falls, poisoning and choking claim more young lives than all childhood diseases combined. Contrary to popular belief, injuries are not accidents, but a result of predictable events in unsafe environments.

The BC Children's Hospital Safe Start Program mandate is to increase public awareness of unsafe environments and provide practical solutions for preventing childhood injuries. One unsafe environment where Safe Start is working to make a difference is in the prevention of scald burn injuries.

In Canada, approximately 120 children die of burn injuries every year. Of all children treated for burn injuries in children's hospitals across Canada, seventy-five per cent have received their injuries because of scalding. Each year in BC, more than 200 children are hospitalized for scald burns and thousands more are treated in emergency departments. One of the most painful injuries for a child to experience, scald burns require treatment that is agonizing, can last for years, and often results in life-long scarring, both physically and emotionally.

The most frequent scald injuries happen to young children at home. Common causes of scald burns are from hot liquids such as tea, coffee and soup, and from hot tap water emerging from residential hot water heaters set at dangerously high temperatures. One to two seconds exposure to hot water at 60°C (140°F) can result in a full-thickness burn. Most residential hot water heaters are preset to this default temperature, and water heaters in apartment buildings can sometimes be set as high as 180°F. Although Safe Start's Hot Water Burns Like Fire project addresses and offers preventative tips on all scald burn dangers, the focus is on keeping families safe from hot tap water burns.

Safe Start developed the Hot Water Burns Like Fire scald burn prevention pilot project in 1997. Five thousand educational brochures and hot water testing cards were developed and distributed to families throughout BC with children aged five and under. The brochure was printed in three languages: English, Punjabi and Chinese, and participants received a multi-lingual thermal sensitive tool for measuring hot water temperatures in their home.

Safe Start has advocated for legislative change in regulating hot water heaters, including the National Plumbing Code. The United States and Australia passed laws for safer water temperatures. The success of these laws has been measured in a fifty to sixty per cent reduction of scald burn admissions to hospitals. The laws and regulations are that:

  1. All new residential hot water heaters (gas and electric) be preset at 49°C (120°F)
  2. Rental units supplied with individual water heaters be` reset to 49°C (120°F) each time a new tenant occupies the unit
  3. All new multi-unit complexes with a central water heating system be equipped with a thermostatic mixing valve
  4. Section 7.2.10.7 (Shower Valves) of the National Plumbing Code be revised to require: 
    a) Pressure-balanced or thermostatic mixing valves (currently a mandatory safety feature for singular show stalls and dual show/bath units), also be a mandatory safety feature for singular bath units 
    b) That the mixing valves intended to regulate the water temperature for dual shower/bath units be installed at a point in the water line so that the hot water delivered from both the bath faucet and the shower head is equally controlled
  5. Requires all new hot water heaters to have labels warning of the hazard of hotter water temperatures
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