Expecting a Baby? Baby-Proof Your Home's Hot Water to Prevent Burns

Posted on: 21 October 2016

If you are expecting a baby, there's no doubt you've thought about what would need to be done to baby-proof your home. While you do have some time before your little one is scampering around and getting into everything, it's important to baby-proof your home's hot water. Here are a few things to consider. 

Water-heater temperature

Many people enjoy taking hot showers and baths, but hot water can scald a baby's delicate skin and lead to severe burns. According to the Burn Foundation, hot tap water is responsible for 17% of hospitalizations of children who are scalded. Third-degree burns can happen in as little as five seconds when water is 140º F. 

Lower the temperature of your water heater by adjusting the thermostat. The Burn Foundation recommends settings no higher than 120ºF to 125ºF. Ask your plumber to inspect the hot water and thermostat to make sure that the temperature of the water matches the thermostat setting. Also, ask your plumber if there are thermostat upgrades available for the make and model of your water heater that will alert you with an audible sound if the thermostat malfunctions.

Do not rely on the thermostat by assuming that it will also regulate the temperature to the setting. Thermostats can and do malfunction. Always, always, always test the temperature of tap water and baths beforehand. Also, never leave a baby or a young child alone in the tub or sink where they are able to turn on the hot water. 

Thermostatic mixing valves

In keeping hot water in mind, determine whether or not the temperature of the water in your showers and bathtubs changes when someone flushes a toilet or uses water elsewhere in the home. For example, a sudden increase in demand for cold water to flush a toilet may cause the cold water pressure in the bathtub to be significantly reduced, which suddenly increases the temperature in the bathtub spout. 

You can combat sudden increases in hot water in showers and bathtubs by installing thermostatic mixing valves. These valves detect sudden changes in temperature and pressure and regulate the flow of cold and hot water so the water remains the same temperature. The valves can be installed at each faucet in your home or only at the faucet where you will always bathe your baby. This should be considered even if you lower the hot-water heater's temperature due to the fact that there's always a possibility of a malfunction. 

Hot-water dispenser 

You may be concerned about your ability to quickly get hot water in order to warm bottles and sanitize things like bottles and teething rings. There's little doubt you are imagining yourself standing at the stove in the wee hours of the morning waiting longer for water to boil due to lowering the temperature of your hot-water heater. After all, it may be the reason for the old cliche that says a pot will take longer to boil if you watch it. 

Install a hot-water dispenser in your kitchen sink. Essentially, this is a small, on-demand water heater that can be installed under your sink or in a nearby cabinet with the spout located beside the faucet of the kitchen sink. The temperature for the hot-water dispenser can be hotter than the temperature of your whole-home water heater.

If you do install one, do not use the kitchen sink to bathe your baby unless you install a protective cover over the handle or knob of the hot-water dispenser. Alternatively, turn the hot-water dispenser off before bathing your baby in the sink just in case your little one grabs the handle. 

For more information about your hot-water heater, talk to a company like Jim Dhamer Plumbing and Sewer, Inc.