Don't Get Burned

Study finds thermostatic mixer valves reduce the risk of scald injuries

(RxWiki News) For children under four years of age, scalds are the primary cause of burn injury. Five thousand US children are sent to hospital emergency rooms each year for scald injuries from hot tap water or bath water.

Researchers at The University of Nottingham say they have found a way to reduce the risk of scalding in children. According to a study led by Professor Denise Kendrick from The University of Nottingham's Division of Primary Care, the use of a thermostatic mixer valve (TMV) fitted to the hot and cold water pipes of a bathtub will limit water temperatures to safe levels while still allowing for a warm bath.

Many scald injuries occur when children are left unattended in or near a bath, or when parents do not properly test the bath water temperatures. Young children are especially prone to severe scald injuries because their skin is thinner and their bodies are smaller. A small amount of scalding water can cover a larger area of a child's body and lead to acute burns quicker than in adult cases.

In conducting their study, Kendrick and her team tested bath water temperatures of 120 families. They then separated the participants into two groups: one educated with leaflets on bath safety, the other fitted with TMVs in addition to the leaflets. The researchers found that the combination of TMVs with the leaflets was successful in reducing the temperature of participants' bath water to safer levels.

According to Kendrick, this study provides information that can help prevent a great number of scald injuries not only in children but also in other high risk groups such as the elderly and disabled. She adds that a decline in the number of scald injuries will lead to a decreased financial burden on hospitals.

Review Date: 
January 5, 2011