Scalds are nasty injuries that send thousands of people to emergency rooms each year and cause dozens of deaths. About 60% of scald injuries occur to children under the age of 5. The elderly are also especially vulnerable. Many scalding incidents occur in the bathroom.
Water temperature of 150 degrees can cause third-degree burns (the worst kind, penetrating all layers of skin) in as little as two seconds of exposure. A six-second exposure to 140-degree water will cause similar damage.
As a result, plumbing codes and standards have evolved to minimize the danger of scalding. For instance, water heaters nowadays are shipped from the factory with an outlet setting of 120 degrees, compared with 140 degrees years ago. Even 120 degrees can cause third-degree burns, although it takes five to eight minutes of exposure for that to happen.
The easiest way to check the temperature on your water heater is open a hot water faucet at the sink, let it run for about 1-2 minutes then use a cooking thermometer to check. If you are above 120 degrees you should lower the setting. If you have issues running out of hot water during showers there are solutions for that and I will cover that on a later blog.