Tap water scald burns are the most frequent cause of nonfatal burn injuries in United States children. Most of these burns occur in the home, and hot water heater thermostat settings below 60°C (140°F) significantly decrease the risk of such burns in young children. The American Academy of Pediatrics and other safety-promotion organizations recommend that thermostats be set at 49 to 53°C (120 to 130°F), and ordinances encouraging lower hot water temperatures exist in some localities.
We advise our pediatric colleagues that consumer products manufacturers do not always follow these recommendations in their published guidelines for product use. Specifically, we have found that four of five major manufacturers of automatic dishwasher detergent recommend hot water thermostat settings of 60°C or higher. (See Table.)