A state-wide analysis of pediatric scald burns by tap water, 2016-2018

Burns. 2020 Dec;46(8):1805-1812. doi: 10.1016/j.burns.2020.06.009. Epub 2020 Jun 19.


Introduction: Unsafe tap water temperatures (>120 °F) are a risk factor for pediatric burns, which may disproportionally impact low-income, urban communities. We sought to estimate the incidence and demographic characteristics of tap water burns and their association with housing characteristics.

Methods: We performed a secondary data analysis to summarize emergency department discharge records from 2016 to 2018 involving children <18 years with an ICD-10-CM code for tap water burn (X11), and town-level housing data from the American Community Survey. Unpaired student's t-test and spearman's correlation analysis were performed for comparative analyses.

Results: A total of 146 tap water burn visits were identified, representing an incidence of 2 per 10,000 ED visits. The majority of cases were male, non-Hispanic White, of public insurance type, and from an urban CT town. The median age was 3 years, with 58% of cases <5 years. Towns with at least one tap water burn had a significantly higher average percentage of multi-family unit and renter housing as compared to towns with no tap water burns (p < 0.0001).

Conclusions: Our results identified a significant number of tap water burns in children. Primary prevention efforts targeting education or regulation of water temperatures may work to reduce burns in underserved areas.

Keywords: Burns; Emergency department; Epidemiology; Health disparities; Pediatrics; Scald burns; Tap water.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Home / statistics & numerical data*
  • Burns / classification*
  • Burns / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Connecticut / epidemiology
  • Drinking Water*
  • Female
  • Hot Temperature / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Registries / statistics & numerical data


  • Drinking Water