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Hot Water Heater Burn Injuries

A defective water heater or a mistaken maintenance technician or plumber could cause the hot water temperature to soar above 150 degrees Fahrenheit, which can cause serious burn injuries. A water heater problem can lead to third-degree burns from tap water.

On some hot water heaters, the default temperature setting is too hot for human contact. Often times, people do not understand how to set a safe temperature for a hot water heater.

Accidents involving hot water in the home cause approximately 6,000 injuries and 35 fatal burn injuries each year. According to the national Safe Kids campaign, around 5,000 children are scalded each year, usually in bathtubs. On average, the burn injury is a third-degree burn that covers 12 percent of the child’s body. Interestingly, 54 percent of these burn injuries occur in apartment homes, while 46 percent of them occur in single family homes. In apartments, maintenance technicians are more likely to adjust the hot water heater temperature without the residents knowing.

Young children have the greatest risk of being scalded by hot water. Just one second of contact with water of 160 degrees Fahrenheit can cause a third-degree burn. When water is 130 degrees Fahrenheit, 30 seconds of exposure will cause a third-degree burn. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) advises that water heaters should be set at a maximum temperature of 120 degrees − but even water at this temperature can cause third-degree burns after ten minutes. A safe temperature for the hot water is 110 degrees; at this temperature, it would take several hours to develop a serious burn injury. Lowering the temperature on your hot water heater will also save energy.

If you have children, always hand-test the bathtub water before placing a child in the tub. Never leave your children in the tub unsupervised. They might accidentally turn on the hot water.

In one recent case in New York City, a child was scalded while taking a shower after the water temperature suddenly jumped to dangerous levels. The child suffered third-degree burns on 15 percent of her body. The accident occurred because the company that installed the hot water heater did not properly install the mixing valve (an inexpensive part that mixes the hot and cold water). The service company and the landlord settled this particular case for $1.5 million.

If you or a loved one is scalded in a home accident, place the burned area in cold water and call 911 or go to the emergency room. Do not attempt to apply any salves or ointments. See a doctor immediately. Contact a lawyer as soon as possible, too. You may have a strong case against the landlord, property management, maintenance company, plumber, or water heater manufacturer. Water heater burn injuries are extremely painful and often leave physical as well as emotional scars.

If you need a Georgia burn injury lawyer, call MLN Law at 404-531-9700 to schedule a free consultation. We have the experience and expertise necessary to help you assert your legal rights.