Scald Prevention

According to the National Scald Prevention Steering Committee, two high risk populations exist when it comes to scald burn injuries, the very young (under 5 years) and the elderly (65 and older). In these two groups, scald injuries are the number one issue, not flame/fire.

97% of scald injuries that require admission to the hospital, are preventable in the state of Iowa. A three year review of data collected by the University of Iowa Burn Treatment Center from 2009 – 2011 revealed this stunning finding. Each day a patient is admitted costs approximately $2,000 per day per patient. During the 3 year period, 203 patients were admitted with the average length of stay of 4 days, which cost approximately $1,642,000. This number does not consider pain and suffering or the long term impacts of a life-changing injury such as this on the individual, their family, and society as a whole.

A three year review of data collected during the same time frame, of outpatient visits also revealed similar results that the vast majority of these injuries are preventable. At an approximate cost of $500 per visit, with 2,972 outpatient visits this has an approximate cost of $1,486,000. This number does not consider pain and suffering or the possible long term impacts of a life-changing injury such as this on the individual, their family, and society as a whole.

On average each year these scald injuries, inpatient and outpatient, are costing over $1,042,667; a preventable cost! Over the three year period studied it cost approximately $3,128,001 to treat these preventable injuries.

The Midwest leads all other regions in the US in the four main gauges used by the NFPA to assess the fire problem in each region; it has the highest number of fires, highest number of civilian deaths, highest number of civilian injuries, and highest property loss per capita.

“Why should I care about scalds?
– Because it can happen to anyone at anytime”

Pilot Program

Iowa Chosen as a Pilot Site for Scald Prevention Campaign

Multiple organizations have teamed up in an effort to prevent scald burn injuries here in the United States. Cooperative efforts have been supported by:

Iowa was chosen as a national pilot site in 2012, and it is being facilitated by a partnership of burn professionals from the Cedar Rapids Fire Department and the University of Iowa Burn Treatment Center, with support from the St. Florian Fire and Burn Foundation.

The chief goal of the National Scald Prevention Campaign is to prevent scald burn injuries by increasing awareness of risks and prevention measures, primarily through fire/burn professionals and people who interact frequently with high-risk populations (children and the elderly).

Prevention Facts

Did you know?

  • A scald injury occurs when hot liquid or steam damages one or more layers of skin
  • 400,000 burn injuries are treated in the United States each year
  • Approximately 1/3 of hospitalized burns are a results of scald injuries
  • 75% of burns to young children are scalds
  • 40% of scald injuries are among children ages 0-4
  • Most scalds occur in the kitchen

—American Burn Association 2010

Prevention Tips

In the kitchen:

  • Turn pot handles towards back of stove
  • Keep appliance cords out of reach/away from children
  • Create a “kid-free zone” by taping off the area in front of the stove
  • Use spill-proof travel mugs for hot beverage and keep out of children’s reach
  • Don’t allow kids to remove food from the microwave

In the bathroom:

  • Always check the temperature of bath water before bathing
  • Consider installing a scald prevention device on tub faucet
  • Supervise young children who have access to hot water

In the home:

  • Turn water heater to 120 degrees or less

Prevention Tools

It Can Happen in a Flash with a Splash
National Scald Prevention Newsletter
Scald Prevention Brochure – English