Some like it hot: Results of a community intervention trial aimed at improving safety behaviors to prevent hot water scald burns

Wendy C. Shields, Elise Omaki, Jeffry Zhu, Eileen M. McDonald, Andrea C. Gielen


Objective: Hot water scalds continue to pose a serious threat in the home, causing over 1,500 hospital admissions and 100 deathseach year in the United States. We aimed to determine whether households who participated in an enhanced home safety visitdemonstrated improved safety behaviors about hot water compared to homes receiving a standard home visit. This communityintervention trial took place between April 2010 and April 2011.

Methods: Hot water temperature and self-reported prevention behaviors were recorded at a baseline visit, and retested 6-9 months later in a follow-up visit. Residents whose hot water temperatures remained at an unsafe temperature were asked whythey did not adjust the temperatures. Demographic data were also recorded.

Results: A total of 708 households participated. No significant difference emerged between the two study groups in the proportionof households observed to have adjusted their hot water temperature to safe levels between the baseline and follow-up visits (t = 1.24; P = .22). Residents who received the enhanced education were more likely to report testing their water temperature (27% vs. 11%; P < .01) and turning their hot water temperature below 120°F (43% vs. 32%; P = .08). Among those who had unsafetemperature levels and did not reduce the water temperature, the most common reason (26%) offered was that they “liked it hot”.

Conclusions: These results demonstrate that water temperatures are unsafe in many urban homes. The effect of educationalinterventions may be mitigated by personal preferences of hot water temperature.

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Journal of Epidemiological Research

ISSN 2377-9306(Print)  ISSN 2377-9330(Online)

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