Home water temperature safety education

Home safety education about safe tap water temperature can be provided at prenatal or well-baby visits at a health clinic or as part of well-baby home visits. Such efforts often include safety counseling, educational books or leaflets, home safety checks, and provision of water temperature home safety equipment such as hot water gauges, thermometers, or plumber-installed thermostatic mixing valves (, Zou 2015). Burns from tap water affect young children and older adults most (Shields 2013). Bathing or tap water is one of the major causes of scald burns in children under 3 years of age ().

Expected Beneficial Outcomes (Rated)

  • Improved home water temperature safety

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is strong evidence that home safety education regarding safe water temperature increases the likelihood of having a safe hot tap water temperature in households, especially when paired with provision of home water safety equipment. Additional evidence is needed to determine the effect of such interventions on the incidence of hot tap water scalds (, Zou 2015).

Effects appear greater when interventions are delivered in homes than in clinics (). Homeowners appear more likely to have a safe hot water temperature than renters. Households with electric water heaters are more likely to have a safe hot water temperature than those with gas water heaters (Shields 2013).

General home safety educational efforts have been shown to be effective for children of various ages, genders, races, and ethnicities. Such efforts have demonstrated effects for children in single parent and two parent households, children living in rental units, and children in family-owned homes ().

A UK-based cost analysis of a large-scale scalds education and thermostatic mixing valve installation program suggests that installation of thermostatic mixing valves in government-owned apartments produces net benefits for society ().

Impact on Disparities

No impact on disparities likely

Implementation Examples

Dallas County, Texas and Maricopa County, Arizona are examples of communities with burn prevention programs. In Dallas, the Injury Prevention Center partnered with the Texas Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) program to implement a fire and scald burn prevention project for participating families (IPC-Home safety). From 2009 to 2011, HIPPY home educators provided literature and verbal educational messages to families and measured hot water temperature. The Maricopa Health Foundation in Maricopa provides scald prevention books and flashcards to students as part their community outreach programs (Maricopa 2014).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC-Burn prevention), American Burn Association (ABA-Scald injury), the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (US CPSC-Scalds), and child safety organizations such as Safe Kids Worldwide (SKW-Burns and scalds) urge individuals to set a water heater’s thermostat to 120 degree Fahrenheit or lower. Safe bath water temperature is 100 degree Fahrenheit (ABA-Scald injury, BIRC-Scald burns). 

Implementation Resources

ABA-Scald injury - American Burn Association (ABA). Scald injury prevention: Educator's guide. 2017.

SKW-Burns and scalds - Safe Kids Worldwide (SKW). Safety tips: Burns and scalds.

BIRC-Scald burns - Burn Injury Resource Center (BIRC). Tap water and scald burns (part II). November 25, 2014.

Citations - Evidence

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

Cochrane-Kendrick 2012* - Kendrick D, Young B, Mason-Jones AJ, et al. Home safety education and provision of safety equipment for injury prevention. Cochrane Database Systematic Reviews. 2012;(9):CD005014.

Shields 2013 - Shields WC, Mcdonald E, Frattaroli S, et al. Still too hot: Examination of water temperature and water heater characteristics 24 years after manufacturers adopt voluntary temperature setting. Journal of Burn Care & Research. 2013;34(2):281–7.

Phillips 2011* - Phillips CJ, Humphreys I, Kendrick D, et al. Preventing bath water scalds: A cost-effectiveness analysis of introducing bath thermostatic mixer valves in social housing.Injury Prevention. 2011;17(4):238-43.

Zou 2015 - Zou K, Wynn PM, Miller P, et al. Preventing childhood scalds within the home: Overview of systematic reviews and a systematic review of primary studies. Burns. 2015;41(5):907-924.

Citations - Implementation Examples

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

Maricopa 2014 - Maricopa Health Foundation. Community outreach.

IPC-Home safety - Injury Prevention Center of Greater Dallas. Home safety: Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY).

CDC-Burn prevention - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Child safety and injury prevention: Burn prevention.

ABA-Scald injury - American Burn Association (ABA). Scald injury prevention: Educator's guide. 2017.

US CPSC-Scalds - US Consumer Product Safety Commission (US CPSC). CPSC safety alert: Avoiding tap water scalds. Washington, DC: US Consumer Product Safety Commission; 2012. Pub. No. 5098.

SKW-Burns and scalds - Safe Kids Worldwide (SKW). Safety tips: Burns and scalds.

BIRC-Scald burns - Burn Injury Resource Center (BIRC). Tap water and scald burns (part II). November 25, 2014.

Date Last Updated

Apr 10, 2018