Hot Water Burns (Scalds)

Hot Water Burns (Scalds)

Hot water burns (scalds) are one of the most common causes of home injury and can lead to burns of the skin, first or second degree burn injuries. It is important to understand how to prevent scalds and how to treat them.

Preventing Hot Water Burns

It is important to turn the water heater setting to ensure that the water temperature does not exceed 130°F (55°C). Infants are especially susceptible to scalds, so be sure to lower the water heater setting for them.

Turning down the water heater can also help conserve energy, as heating water makes up to 18% of your household energy use.

  • Check the water temperature before bathing an infant.
  • Teach children to avoid excessively hot water.
  • Set the temperature of your hot water heater no warmer than 120°F-130°F.
  • Install pressure-balancing valves on all faucets.
  • Install scald protection devices on showers, tubs, and faucets.
  • Check all faucets to make sure they can’t be turned too high.
  • Clean faucets and shower heads regularly to prevent bacteria growth.
  • When cooking on the stove, turn pot handles inward.

Treating Hot Water Burns

Hot water burns are one of the most common types of burn, but it is also one of the most overlooked. Even though a hot water burn may look mild on the surface, it can still cause significant damage and should be treated right away.

  • Immediately cool burn area with cool water for 15-20 minutes.
  • Cover burn with a clean cloth or bandage to protect the area.
  • Do not put any ointment, cream, butter or other fluid on the burn.
  • Seek medical help if the burn area is larger than the palm of your hand, or if it continues to worsen.