scalding accidents in hot baths, leaving the toddlers facing years of
painful skin grafts and their parents a lifetime of guilt.
ordering a review of building regulations which could see all newly
built or converted private properties fitted with a safety device to
control the temperature of the water coming out of showers and hot
water taps to baths and basins. The minister said: 'The bath has the
highest number of fatal or serious scalding incidents. Safe water
temperatures are essential since most accidents occur with the young,
elderly or infirm either getting or falling into baths that are
initially too hot, or in topping up with hot water.
'Thanks to government, industry and the voluntary sector working
together, a new generation of thermostatic mixing valve (TMV2),
suitable for domestic use, has been developed. Subject to the views
of the Building Regulations Advisory Committee and a full public
consultation, I now believe it is practical to consider bringing the
issue within the scope of building control.'
The initiative to reduce bath water scalds among young children was
originally started by national children's charity Child Accident
'These scalds can be life-threatening and the injuries can lead to
many years of painful treatment,' said the trust's chief executive,
'We are delighted that the government is taking this step to review
Actress and scald victim, Amanda Redman, now a patron of the
Children's Fire & Burn Trust, also welcomed the prospect of new,
tougher regulations. She said: 'What a great start to the New Year.
This is going to make a big difference to many children's lives.
Parents can minimise the risk of scalding by closely supervising
bath-time, so that a child has no opportunity to turn on the hot tap
while their parent is distracted. However, the most effective safety
measure is the installation of a thermostatic control device to
regulate the bath water outlet temperature to reduce the risk of
The Thermostatic Mixing Valve Manufacturers Association represents
many of the mixing valves companies in the UK
'The problem with bath water scalding begins largely with the need to
store heated water at temperatures typically above 60 degrees
Centrigade to avoid bacteriological contamination - particularly
legionella, a naturally occurring organism that has the potential to
kill,' explained director Dr Howard Porter.
'The new valves provide a solution by mixing hot water (stored at a
temperature high enough to kill legionella) with cold water to ensure
constant and safe outlet temperatures to prevent scalding.'
Today's announcement from the ODPM is the latest in a series of
cross-government initiatives to tackle housing hazards such as
scalding after Department for Trade & Industry research revealed
that, unlike most home accidents, scalding statistics were not
dropping. The DTI supported work to improve safety information and to
encourage industry to review its products.
Meanwhile, the ODPM is looking at bringing tap water temperatures
under the Building Regulations to improve safety in all newly built
and converted private housing. Last month, the ODPM also launched a
consultation on the way councils will use the new evidence based
Housing Health and Safety Rating System to tackle health and safety
hazards in housing. The system will cover a wide range of hazards
including those from hot surfaces and materials and will help
authorities to identify and deal with the worst cases.
Hot bath water is responsible for the highest number of fatal and
severe scald injuries in the home. Every year around 20 people die as
a result of scalds caused by hot bath water and a further 570 suffer
serious scald injuries. Young children and older people are most at
risk from bath water scalds because their skin is thinner and
therefore less tolerant to higher water temperatures than that of
other age groups. As a result, they sustain scalds more quickly, at
lower water temperatures and often with a greater depth of burn.
Over three-quarters of severe scalds are suffered by children under
five years of age, and almost three-quarters of the fatalities are
people aged 65 and over. Statistics are average yearly numbers of
bath scalds by severity and age group in UK 1992-1996, Sambrook
Research International 1999.
2. BUILDING REGULATIONS
Building regulations come under the ODPM. Phil Hope is the government
minister directly responsible for the regulations, which are aimed at
ensuring the health and safety of people in and around buildings.
Building regulations apply to all new and converted private dwellings
in England and Wales and are overseen by building control inspectors
working for the relevant local authority. Safe water temperatures
would be addressed by a review of Part G of the Building Regulations
(Hygiene) and could come into force early in 2006.
3. CHILD ACCIDENT PREVENTION TRUST
A national charity committed to reducing the number of children and
young people killed, disabled and seriously injured as a result of
CAPT has worked closely with the ODPM on a revision of Section (4)
Hot Surfaces and Materials of version (2) of the draft guidance to
the government's Housing Health and Safety Rating System which went
out for consultation last month (22 December). This section will
provide local authorities, social and private landlords with
information on potential scalding hazards within housing and will
help them to determine the risk probability and health outcomes
relating to scalding.
With support f rom DTI, CAPT persuaded industry to develop the new
generation of thermostatic mixing valve suitable for domestic use.
The charity also convinced the Housing Corporation to recommend the
fitting of the valves into new or refurbished housing association
4. CHILDREN'S FIRE AND BURN TRUST
Established with encouragement and support of leading burns
specialists, the Home Office, the London Fire Brigade, schools and
The trust aims to meet two needs:
- The long-term rehabilitation of children suffering from burns
- The co-ordination of education for children in fire and burn safety
5. THERMOSTATIC MIXING VALVE MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION
The TMV A was established on 1 March 1999 to concentrate attention on
the safe provision of hot water at the point of use by:
- raising awareness of dangers of scalding
- promoting awareness of the benefits of TMVs in preventing potential
- creating a forum for leading manufacturers to engender continuous
product/application development to improve safety.