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Tips on Scald Prevention and Water Heating Safety

For Release: February 6, 2013

Contact: Kyla Kruse, 217-546-6815

 National Burn Awareness Week:
Safe Electricity Shares Tips on Scald Prevention and Water Heating Safety

(SPRINGFIELD, ILL.)—Burns are among the most painful injuries and are responsible for sending thousands of people to hospitals each year. In observance of National Burn Awareness Week (Feb. 3-9), Safe Electricity encourages you to learn about scald prevention and water heating safety, as well as other electrical safety tips.

Hot liquids and steam are responsible for scalding burns. Cooking, hot beverages, tap water, and bath water can all cause scalds. In fact, half of all burn injuries at emergency rooms are scalds, and most of those victims are young children. Scalds are painful and can cause lifelong scars and even death.

"In a matter of seconds you can become a victim of a life-changing scald," says Molly Hall, director of the Energy Education Council's Safe Electricity program. "A simple water heater adjustment can not only help prevent these tragedies, but it can also help you save money through energy efficiency."

To prevent scalds, it is a good idea to start at the source of the hot water. Water heaters keep a supply of stand-by water so that hot water is available instantly. Much of the cost of water heating comes from keeping water warm and ready for when you turn on the faucet. On a normal water heater, you can set the temperature from 120 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. At 155 F, scalding can occur in just one second. Dial your hot water heater down to 120 F to reduce scald risk and to save money on standby heating costs.

Even with cooler water, it is still important to practice caution around hot liquids and steam, especially around children. "Make sure children know not to play in the kitchen when you are cooking," says Hall. "Use sealed travel mugs, and turn pots so curious hands cannot grab the handle."

If someone you know experiences a scald, immediately remove the scalding source and remove affected clothing. Briefly rinse the scald in cold water-not in lotion or ointment. Apply a dry covering to the burn that will not leave thread or other residue in the burn. Seek medical assistance for severe burns.

Burn Awareness Week is also a good time to learn how you can help prevent other types of household burns, including electrical burns. Household wiring problems and damaged electronics increase the risk of shocks, burns, and fires. Discolored outlet covers, frequently tripped circuit breakers, flickering lights, and a persistent burning smell all indicate major electrical dangers. Hire a qualified electrician to inspect and repair your home. Be careful with space heaters and electric blankets, especially with children in the home. Never use damaged electronics or cords that are frayed or cracked. Do not repair electrical equipment that is plugged in. Even if an appliance is unplugged, if it has capacitors it has shock potential. Do not work on appliances if you do not have a firm understanding of electricity.

For more information on preventing electrical shocks and burns, visit SafeElectricity.org.

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The Energy Education Council is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization dedicated to promoting electrical safety and energy efficiency. Established in 1952, the Council is headquartered within the University of Illinois Extension, and serves as a forum for diverse utility and energy organizations to collaborate on the mutually vital issues of efficiency and safety. Learn more at www.EnergyEdCouncil.org.