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GOVERNMENT MOVES TO STOP BATH-TIME SCALDING INJURIES

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Each year more than 430 very young children are seriously injured in ...
Each year more than 430 very young children are seriously injured in

scalding accidents in hot baths, leaving the toddlers facing years of

painful skin grafts and their parents a lifetime of guilt.

Now government minister Phil Hope aims to make bath-time safer by

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

Prevention Trust.

'These scalds can be life-threatening and the injuries can lead to

many years of painful treatment,' said the trust's chief executive,

Katrina Phillips.

'We are delighted that the government is taking this step to review

building regulations.'

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

severe scalding.'

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.

Notes

1. STATISTICS

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

accidents.

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

homes.

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

parents.

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

prevention.

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

scalding

- creating a forum for leading manufacturers to engender continuous

product/application development to improve safety.

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