Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 5: Facilities, Supplies, Equipment, and Environmental Health

5.2 Quality of the Outdoor and Indoor Environment

5.2.1 Ventilation, Heating, Cooling, and Hot Water Water Heating Devices and Temperatures Allowed

Facilities should have water heating devices connected to the water supply system as required by the regulatory authority. These facilities should be capable of heating water to at least 120°F. Hot water temperature at sinks used for handwashing, or where the hot water will be in direct contact with children, should be at a temperature of at least 60°F and not exceeding 120°F. Scald-prevention devices, such as special faucets or thermostatically controlled valves, should be permanently installed, if necessary, to provide this temperature of water at the faucet. Where a dishwasher is used, it should have the capacity to heat water to at least 140°F for the dishwasher (with scald preventing devices that prohibit the opening of the dishwasher during operation cycle).
Hot water is needed to clean and sanitize dishes and food utensils adequately and sanitize laundry. Tap water burns are a common source of scald injuries in young children (1). Children under six years of age are the most frequent victims of non-fatal burns (1). Water heated to temperatures greater than 120°F takes less than thirty seconds to burn the skin (1). If the water is heated to 120°F it takes two minutes to burn the skin (2). That extra two minutes could provide enough time to remove the child from the hot water source and avoid a burn.
Anti-scald aerators designed to fit on the end of a modern bathroom and kitchen faucets, and anti-scald bathtub spouts, are also available. Only devices approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) should be considered. A number of other scald-prevention devices are available on the market. Consult a plumbing contractor for details.
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  1. D’Souza, A. L., N. G. Nelson, L. B. McKenzie. 2009. Pediatric burn injuries treated in US emergency departments between 1990 and 2006. Pediatrics 124:1424-30.
  2. Erdmann, T. C., K. W. Feldman, F. P. Rivara, D. M. Heimbach, H. A. Wall. 1991. Tap water burn prevention: The effect of legislation. Pediatrics 88:572-77.