Preventable Burns from Domestic Tap Water
Prokopenko M., Reed AJM., Chicco M., Issa F.
Tap water scalds from domestic outlets can afflict large body surface areas. Such injuries are preventable and carry significant associated morbidity, mortality, and economic burden. Previously identified risk factors include age (<5 or >65 years old) and the presence of physical or mental disabilities. Education campaigns and advances in legislation mandating the restriction of tap water temperature at user outlets have been employed in an attempt to prevent such injuries. Nonetheless, the incidence of these injuries persists, and further mitigating measures must be implemented to minimize their occurrence. The purpose of this study was to determine the groups at risk for such injuries and whether this has recently changed. A retrospective observational study was carried out to include patients admitted with tap water scalds to a regional burn’s unit from October 2016 to September 2020. Twenty-three patients were included, and their incidence was 5.75 cases per year, equating to 5.1% of all scalds requiring inpatient treatment. The very young (<5 years old) and elderly (>65 years old) accounted for the majority of admissions (65.2%), 26.1% had a mental disability, and 30.4% had a physical disability. Tap water scalds continue to cause preventable injuries affecting all ages, and in particular, the elderly and patients with pre-existing disabilities.