3 Useful Facts about Scalds

Witches brewingDouble, double toil and trouble; 
Fire burn, and caldron bubble…

Whether or not you are familiar with the plot of Shakespeare’s Macbeth (or whether or not you have ever heard of it), you have probably heard some variant of the quoted lines.  The scene in which they appear consists of three witches huddled around a pot brimming with eye of newt, toe of frog, and some unnamed liquid, literally cooking up trouble for Scotland.  This trouble is not germane to the point, but their concoction is thinly related to today’s topic:  scald injuries.

A scald is a burn that arises from contact with steam or hot water.  They constitute a third of those burns treated in hospitals and 40% of those reported.  The annual costs of scald burns for children younger than 15 is $44 million.  Yet, for all that, scalds are rarely recognized as the threat they actually are.

Hot liquid may not conjure up as many nightmares as the Wyrd Sisters from Macbeth, but it still merits caution.  Read on to find out what makes scald injuries such a pernicious latent threat:

1. Scalds are a common route to serious injury.

Of the 400,000 injured and 4,000 who die from scalds each year, approximately 3,800 of those injuries and 30 deaths occur simply because tap water was too hot.  Young children and the elderly face the greatest risks:  Sixty-five percent of children younger than five who were hospitalized for burn injuries were scald victims, and 52,000 emergency room visits are made yearly by adults older than 64 for scald burns.

2. Scalds do not take very long.

At 155° Fahrenheit, it only takes a single second to sustain a scald burn.  At 140°, it takes 5 seconds.  The highest temperature at which it is safe to bathe is 100°; anything even a little higher is just a slower burn.  (Getting overzealous with a jacuzzi’s thermostat may just turn into “hell-broth.”)

3. Scald risks lurk in mundane places.

Tap water scalds are the second leading cause of burn injuries.  Most scald burns come from incidents in the kitchen while food is being prepared or served.  Usually, this involves a simple spill while removing something from the stove or microwave.  While the old and young are more likely to sustain serious harm from such accidents, clumsiness can happen to people of any age if they aren’t careful.

The bathroom is an unsung villain:  Only 8% of adults consider the bathroom a hot spot for scald burns.  Yet those tap water burns that occur in the bathroom tend to be more serious, as they cover a larger area of the body.  Bathtub scalds commonly result when someone lets a bathtub run unattended without monitoring temperature.

It always pays to apply common sense to everyday activities, but only Shakespeare’s prophetic witches know exactly what the future brings (as Macbeth found out).  Unfortunately, not all accident risks can be seen until too lat.  However, this doesn’t mean you have to suffer the consequences of an oversight that wasn’t yours.  If you or a loved one has suffered from a scald or any burn injury, and the costs are overwhelming, consider enlisting Utah burn injury attorneys Christensen & Hymas for legal help and guidance.  Christensen & Hymas will not charge for an initial interview or add to your expenses until you have received compensation to cover them.  To learn more, call (801) 506-0800.

Image courtesy of flickr.com

Ken Christensen
Partner, Founder at Christensen & Hymas
Ken Christensen is the founding partner of Christensen & Hymas. He is an avid cyclist, loves baseball, and enjoys spending time with his family in the outdoors.

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