A 79-year-old man has died after falling into a scalding hot bath. The disabled pensioner was taking a shower when he fell and suffered severe burns after accidentally knocking the hot tap on. This story is particularly tragic as he lay helpless for hours before being found, and later died in hospital.
In response, calls are being made to raise awareness across the industry about installing the right products to ensure such deaths are prevented in future.
The importance of anti-scald products
Hot bath water is responsible for the highest number of fatal and severe scald injuries in the home. Each year, around 20 people die as a result of scalds caused by hot bath water and a further 570 suffer serious scald injuries. The very young and the very old are most at risk. So, when considering matters of safety, it’s vital that appropriate products are correctly installed.
Anti-scald products are the safe choice when fitting and updating bathrooms. For example, Thermostatic Mixing Valves (TMVs) are designed to regulate the temperature of hot water in environments with vulnerable people, such as the elderly and young children. And it is vital that the industry does more to urge installers to choose them and make safer decisions.
How does a Thermostatic Mixing Valve prevent burns and scalds?
A TMV works by blending hot and cold water to ensure it’s supplied at a safe temperature. At the same time, it also enables water to be stored at a temperature higher than 60°C, ensuring it kills Legionella bacteria.
However, while there is an ongoing campaign ensure the use of TMVs in care homes (all properties which fall under the Care Standards Act are required to have TMV 3 level thermostatic protection), we’d argue that TMV 2 valves – which are suitable for most domestic properties – should be more commonly used.
In 2010, an amendment to The Building Regulations 2000 came into effect. This stated that all new-build homes across England and Wales must have devices fitted to baths to limit the temperature of the water to 48°C. Three years previously, TMVs became a requirement in new homes in Scotland. But there is still no legal requirement to limit water delivery temperatures in older homes. So, neither homeowners nor landlords are required to ‘retrofit’ TMVs in existing buildings.
The right products go a long way towards reducing scalding risks in the home through baths, basins and showers. Indeed, in this case, had the bath been fitted with a TMV, this horrible death could have been prevented.
However, using the correct TMVs is only half the battle. Once installed, regular and appropriate maintenance must also be carried out if we are serious about protecting the most vulnerable members of our society from harm.