Perceptions of tap water temperatures, scald risk and prevention among parents and older people in social housing: a qualitative study

Mary Alison Durand, Judith Green, Phil Edwards, Sarah Milton, Suzanne Lutchmun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Young children and older people are particularly vulnerable to tap water scalding. For children, there are also socio-economic inequalities in risk. Evidence suggests that reducing tap water temperatures in social (public) housing through 'passive' means is effective in reducing risk. However, little is known about parents' or older people's perceptions of scald risk and prevention.

OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to document the views of parents and older residents in social housing in an inner-London borough about their tap water temperature, perceived scalding risk and scald prevention strategies.

METHODS: Analysis of twenty in-depth interviews with 11 parents and 10 people aged 65 years or older.

RESULTS: Tap water was described as very hot, but participants did not consider themselves at risk, viewing scald prevention as a personal responsibility achieved with a range of everyday, routine strategies. Very hot water was preferred for health- and convenience-related reasons. However, it was felt that others, particularly children, could be scalded, and some concern was expressed about the environmental and financial impacts of excessively hot water.

CONCLUSIONS: Those seeking to introduce engineering-based scald prevention interventions in social housing should emphasise the potential environmental and financial impacts of water temperature reduction, in addition to promoting safety benefits for vulnerable others.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)585-590
Number of pages6
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012


  • Accidents, Home/prevention & control
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Awareness
  • Burns/etiology
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Hot Temperature/adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nuclear Family
  • Parents/psychology
  • Public Housing
  • Qualitative Research
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Water
  • Water Supply

Cite this