Taps to have thermostats to prevent scalding

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The Independent Online

All bath taps in new homes will have to be fitted with water-cooling thermostats in an attempt to reduce serious scalding accidents, under plans announced by the Government yesterday.

All bath taps in new homes will have to be fitted with water-cooling thermostats in an attempt to reduce serious scalding accidents, under plans announced by the Government yesterday.

Builders will be required to install safety devices into bath, basin and shower taps in all new and converted homes by 2006. Hot bath water is responsible for the highest number of deaths and serious injuries from serious scalds in the home, said the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, which has drawn up the plans.

More than 430 children under five are seriously injured in bathroom scalding accidents every year.

Older people are also at high risk of injury because their skin is thinner.

About 20 people die every year as a result of scalding injuries from hot bath water, three-quarters of them over 65.

Building companies have given their backing to the scheme, but raised concerns that the move could give people a false sense of security. They say the cost will be about £60 for each thermostat.

A spokesman for the House Builders Federation said: "Any measure that helps reduce scalding accidents has to be seen as a good thing, but the focus should be on ensuring that children are not left unsupervised in bathrooms. The majority of serious accidents happen to the under-fives when most of these children are not being supervised.

"Frankly, the focus should be to ensure that youngsters are not left unsupervised, and that installing these thermostats does lead to more children being left alone because they are considered safe."

The thermostats will be fitted to the taps of baths and basins in homes, as water in boilers still needs to be heated to scalding temperature to reduce the risk of water-borne infections, such as Legionnaires' disease.

Accident prevention charities said the initiative could prevent scores of accidents. Sarah Collis, the home safety adviser at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, said: "Even the most conscientious parents get called away or distracted when they are looking after children, but by making the home environment that little bit safe, accidents are less likely to happen.

"When these accidents happen to children, the skin grafts have to be repeated as the child grows so it can result in a series of very painful operations and even then there will always be scarring."

The proposals are to be put out to consultation but Phil Hope, a minister at the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, said they should be included in building regulations.

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