Hot Tap Water Legislation in the United States

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Excessively hot tap water results in an estimated 1500 hospital admissions and up to 50 deaths in the United States every year. This study reviewed the current state of tap water temperature regulation in the United States, including the model plumbing code standards on which state legislation in this area is based; assessed the level of public awareness regarding the risk, prevalence, and severity of such injuries; and identified specific prevention measures. Relevant information was obtained from state legislative codes, model code development organizations, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, and a survey of knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors related to tap water temperature safety. Model building and plumbing codes related to tap water temperature regulation and their subsequent adoption by state legislatures vary widely across the United States. The states also vary with respect to the authority provided to lower levels of government (counties or municipalities) to modify and enforce code provisions. Public awareness of hot tap water hazards and implementation of preventive measures are limited. A broader and more uniform application of codes for regulating tap water temperature in both institutional and residential settings can be achieved through input from affected users, government agencies, legislators, advocacy organizations, and the general public. Safer hot water temperatures and a reduction in scald injuries can be achieved through regulating hot water temperature level at the thermostat, installing temperature-regulating valves at the tap, and raising public awareness of hot tap water hazards.

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