Scalding-hot water is a very real safety concern in any home, but especially in homes with children or senior citizens. Many people understand the risk to children, who might not know how to properly adjust the temperature of the faucet in the sink or tub. But fewer realize how scalding can be a risk to senior citizens, especially if they use a walk-in bath. Keep reading to learn more about this danger and how to minimize the risk of scalding in your home.
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Why Seniors Are at Risk
So why are elderly individuals more at risk of scalding than most people? Many senior citizens have various conditions that can minimize their ability to tell what’s too hot. Even something as common as diabetes can reduce the feeling you have in your legs and feet—the first things getting wet in the tub—and make it difficult to determine if the water from the faucet is too hot.
And when it comes to scalding-hot water, even a second’s delay can be enough to cause severe burns. According to The Burn Foundation, water at 156 degrees Fahrenheit can cause third-degree burns in just one second. Even water at a much more common temperature of 140 degrees can cause third-degree burns in as little as 5 seconds.
It’s also worth noting that seniors who use a walk-in tub have even higher risks. Most people would test the temperature of the water before climbing into a tub, but this isn’t possible with a walk-in model. Instead, the user must sit inside before turning the water on. If the water is scalding hot, they can’t easily jump back or hop out either, further increasing the risk of burns. So it’s absolutely essential that the water coming from the faucet is never so hot as to scald the user. Here’s what you can do to minimize this risk.
Adjust Your Water Heater
The first thing you should do is adjust the setting on your water heater. Most water heaters can heat water up to temperatures of 170 or 190 degrees Fahrenheit. However, these maximum temperatures are far hotter than any household really needs. Change the setting on your water heater to the “low” setting, which should heat your water to only 120 degrees. This is hot enough for all household uses, including washing clothes and dishes, but is not hot enough that you’ll be scalded by it.
Look for Anti-Scald Technology
If you’re in the market for a walk-in tub, look for walk-in bathtubs that have anti-scald technology. This feature automatically adjusts the temperature of the water coming from the faucet if it’s too hot to ensure that the bather will never be scalded by the water.