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The City of Portland, Oregon

Fire & Rescue

Always Ready, Always There

Phone: 503-823-3700

Fax: 503-823-3710

55 SW Ash Street, Portland, OR 97204

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Burn Awareness Week: Scald Burns


Each year, thousands of Oregonians suffer from burn injuries including scalds, flame, heat, sunburn, frostbite, chemical or electrical burns. About 80% of burn injuries do occur in or around the home and the majority of these injuries are preventable.

During Burn Awareness Week, Portland Fire & Rescue is partnering with the Oregon Burn Center to provide safety tips and information to help citizens learn how to avoid burn injuries.

What are Burns?

A burn is damage to the skin and underlying tissue caused by heat, chemicals, or electricity. All burns damage or destroy skin cells. Deeper burns may involve the fat, muscle, or bone.

Who Are More Susceptible?

Due to their thinner skin, children and older adults can sustain severe burns at lower temperatures and in less time than younger adults. Children, seniors, and the disabled are less likely to survive burn injuries and usually spend more in hospital due to recovery challenges. Adults between the ages of 35 and 44 are the most frequently hospitalized for burn-related injuries.  Adult males are three times more likely than females to experience burn-related hospitalizations. Children under the age of six years old are frequently seen in emergency rooms with burn injuries.

Hot Tap Water & Scald Burns

Over 500,000 scald burns occur annually in the United States. Hot tap water is a major cause of burn injury. As with other scald burns, young children and older adults are most at risk.

The following measures will help you prevent or control tap water scalds:

  • Before placing a child into the bath or getting into the tub yourself, TEST THE TEMPERATURE OF THE WATER by moving your hand rapidly through the water for several seconds. The temperature should not exceed 90º F. A child's delicate skin will burn more quickly than an adult's. Consider purchasing a Bath Buddy Thermometer for the bath tub.  It’s a rubber duck with a Thermometer build right in it. 
  • Never leave a young child unattended in the bathroom or tub.
  • Use extreme caution if bathing small children in the sink. Many sinks have single-lever faucets which are easy for young children to turn on.
  • Adjust the thermostat setting on your water heater to produce a water temperature of 120º to 125º or less. The lower the temperature, the lower the risk.
  • Consider installing "anti-scald" devices on tub faucets and shower heads to prevent accidental scalds.
  • Consider purchasing a soft spout cover that will guard the entire tub faucet, protecting children from bumps in the tub.


Citizens can find Buddy Thermometers and soft spout covers at Emanuel Hospital’s Safety Store located at 2801 N. Gantenbein as well as at Portland Fire & Rescue’s Historic Belmont Firehouse Learning Center at SE 35th and Belmont. 

Remember, continuous and adequate supervision of young children is the single most important factor in preventing tab water scald burns.

Questions? Contact Portland Fire & Rescue Fire Inspector Scott Goetchius at 503-823-3615.


  Portland Fire & Rescue 

   We Respond: Always Ready, Always There

   February 7, 2012 


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