End tap scald tragedies with new law, say campaigners

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Campaigners say all taps should have a temperature limiter (Picture by Matthew Bowden)

HOUSEHOLD taps should be fitted with compulsory temperature regulators to prevent scalds, say campaigners.

Around 500 toddlers are severely burned by hot tap water every year but there are currently no Europe-wide laws governing the maximum water temperature on domestic taps.

Laws that do exist in Scotland, England and Wales place a limit of water temperature in new homes and those that have been refurbished.

WhereasFranceandSwedendemand that a cap is in place in all households.

The European Child Safety Alliance says it now wants these measures in place in all homes.

Campaigners say limiting water temperature to 50C would protect children, whose skin is thinner than that of an adult, against serious scalds.

The organisation’s director Joanne Vincenten (corr) said: “A combined approach of legislation, good engineering and solid education to the public would greatly reduce the number of tap water scalds to children inEurope.”

One mother whose child was badly injured by  hot water agrees that measures need to be put in place.

Luisa Fletcher’s one-year-old son Lewis had to undergo 15 gruelling operations and had a finger amputated after he climbed onto a toilet and turned in the hot tap in August last year.

The water was later tested at 74c – hotter than a cup of tea.

The 31-year-old said: “In my opinion it is ludicrous, there’s legislation regarding water temperatures in residential units and guidance about schools and hospital – children should have the same protection in their own home.

“If there is no temperature control, water could come out boiling, and that’s not right.”

Every year around 20 babies and toddlers die after being scalded and around 2000 are treated in A&E.

Older people can also suffer, with around 15 dying annually because of hot water.

Blood vessels in the skin can be destroyed by scalds, forcing doctors to amputate before gangrene sets in.

Scotlandpassed laws on limiting temperature in new and refurbished homes in 2006.

The laws had been championed by Mark Stevenson of the Scottish Burned Children’s Club and by teenager Darren Fergusin, who suffered severe burns to his face while just a baby.

EnglandandWalespassed similar laws last August but many are calling for a limit in all homes.

Opponents say lowering the temperature could lead to an increased risk of the bugs behind Legionnaire’s Disease, the legionella bacteria.

But the European Child Safety Alliance, which counts the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and the Child Accident Prevention Trust amongst its members, say there is insufficient evidence to support that claim.