Beware of Your Bathroom!March 21, 2018 6:48 pm
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Believe it or not, the bathroom is one of the most hazardous rooms in the house for babies, young children and the elderly. Why? Because this is where scalds and hot water burns can occur, as well as falls and drowning.
To help reduce some of the risks associated with this, it is vital that new houses and where appropriate, renovations, should adhere to hot water temperatures of no more than 50 degrees at the basin, bath and shower. The only exceptions to this are in premises intended for children and the elderly, such as early childhood centres, schools and nursing homes, where the heated water temperature limit should be 45 degrees.
The Public Health Association of Australia stated in 2016 that over 90 per cent of hot water scalds in the home occur in the bathroom, largely due to immersion in water that is too hot.
Each year in Australia, on average, around 800 people are hospitalised due to scalding from the hot water tap in their bathroom. Luckily, you have several options available to reduce the temperature of bathroom hot water, which must be fitted by a licensed plumbing practitioner. These include;
• Tempering valves – fitted to heated water pipelines to mix hot and cold water to a specific, adjustable temperature between 35 degrees and 50 degrees; and
• Hot Water Shutdown devices – fitted to taps and outlets that can automatically cut off water flow once the water reaches the pre-set temperature.
While it is extremely important that the temperature of household hot water limits the risk of burn injuries to those using these facilities, extreme care also needs to be taken to ensure minimum risk is also associated with stored hot water not being hot enough. For instance, there is a risk of the legionella bacteria (known for causing serious types of flu, pneumonia and lung infection), which can form in storage hot water services, while still preventing scalding at hot water outlets used for bathing.
How do I ensure my bathroom is safe?
Simple. Just take note of this important hot water safety metric below.
Hot water must be stored at a minimum of 60 degrees to kill legionella bacteria. To prevent scalding, this must then be reduced to no more than 50 degrees at the hot water outlet in bathrooms. (Please note that these are not bathing temperatures. Cold water still needs to be mixed with hot water).
Tips to ensure my bathroom is safe
- The use of a bath thermometer to ensure the water is a safe and comfortable temperature is recommended.
- The recommended maximum water temperature for bathing young children is 37 – 38 degrees.
- Always run cold water first.
- Never leave a small child in the care of an older child, who may be able to turn on the hot water tap.
- Take the child with you, if you have to answer the door or the telephone.
- Never leave your child alone in the bathroom.
- Keep the bathroom door closed.
For the best advice, talk to your licensed plumber or give Newman Plumbing a call on 0418 328 767 and we will recommend the best and safest solutions for your home. This might include:
– Installing a tempering valve which reduces the hot water temperature in the bathroom but does not affect the temperature in the kitchen; or
– Installing a thermostatic mixing valve that can be set to deliver hot water at a precise, safe temperature.
With something as simple as a hot tap water causing serious scalds to many small children or disabled people around Australia, the time to act is now.
Did you know that…
At 68 degrees it takes only 1 second to cause a full thickness scald; or that at 49 degrees it takes 5 minutes
This may not seem a big temperature difference, but it can mean the difference between scarring for life, agonising pain, hospitalisation or in extreme cases – death.
Before the introduction of Tempering valves, hot water in most Victorian homes were generally set between 65 degrees and 75 degrees. In some homes, the hot water temperature was even higher.
The table below shows you how long it takes for skin to receive a major scald burn from water at a range of different temperatures.
Major Burn in
1.5 – 2 minutes
< 5 seconds
< 3 seconds
With your bathroom being used every day, several times a day, it is extremely important to make sure it is as safe as possible for people of all ages. Newman Plumbing are experts in hot water services, so please take the time to contact us and we will remove any doubt from your mind about the safety of your bathroom.