Warning: Hot Water Can Severely Burn in Seconds - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

2/14/05

Warning: Hot Water Can Severely Burn in Seconds

Cassie Marlin is a healthy, happy 2-year-old. Except for one thing, just putting on socks and shoes can be painful. Seven months ago, Cassie's foot was red, blistered and severely burned. Ed Marlin, Cassie's father describes the burn. "The majority of the burn was on the top of the ankle and it even affected the bottom of her foot. The skin swelled up and blistered. It was tearing and leaking." Cassie's mother, Maria Marlin says, "I looked down at her foot and the skin was hanging that top layer of skin."

The culprit? Hot water, running from the faucet. Ed says, "I had just gotten finished feeding the girls and I was cleaning up a little and was about to give them a bath and that's when I heard Anna come in yelling about Cassie and I heard Cassie screaming. I went running in there and found her in the sink." Ed turned away from his daughter for mere seconds. "She had pushed a stool up there and just climbed up in it and sat down on the sink and turned it on." Maria recalls, "She said she was trying to wash her hands."

Ed and his wife Maria rushed Cassie to the emergency room. Maria says, "She had second degree burns all on her foot and part of her leg." Cassie is just one of more than 3,000 people burned by hot tap water each year. At University Medical Center, Dr. Mindy Banister treats five to seven scalded patients each week. Dr. Banister says, "Second degree burn is the most common form of hot water scald that happens five seconds or less."

Ed says, "You know it was tough, some of the stuff we had to do on a regular treatments. We had to change bandages every day and it was hard because she wasn't too happy about it and it was a painful experience for her." Cassie spent five days at UMC.

Now, seven months later, the burn looks more like a big bruise. Ed says, "For the longest time, the skin was discolored and just how the body heals. It was not pretty so after a while we started seeing new skin." Still today, Cassie must help rub Mederma on her foot. She then wears a compression sock to protect the skin and prevent raised scarring.

Dr. Banister warns, "Water at high temperatures can burn skin very quickly, within seconds, 2 to 3 seconds. The hotter it is and the longer the skin is exposed, the deeper the burn can go."

To prevent burns like the one Cassie suffered, you need to check your thermostat on your water heater. Dennis Duncan, owner of Duncan Heating and Air says safety begins with placement of your water heater. A gas heater must be at least eighteen inches off the floor. Duncan says, "If you go down to the control, turn it to a safe setting. A would be a good setting, probably 110 to 140. It does crank up to very hot, but when you go to very hot, you're reaching the point where you have scalding water." Electric heaters are a bit tricker to check. Warning labels indicate the danger involved, so it's best to call a professional to check the temperature.

The water running from the Marlin's faucet is now a safe temperature. Both Cassie and her big sister, four year old Anna know the difference between hot and cold. But their parents warn, don't underestimate your children. Maria says, "I f they want something bad enough, they'll find a way. You turn your back for one second and that's all it takes. That's all it took for Cassie."

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