The Illinois House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill addressing safety valves to prevent residents from burning themselves with scalding hot water. Inspired by an 18-month-old girl who died after tragically suffering from severe third-degree burns, House Bill 3427 regulates the installation of temperature valves as a standard component on residential water tanks and heaters, as reported by the Chicago Tribune.
The Prairie State’s objective is preventing additional deaths and injuries from second- or third-degree burns from hot water temperatures greater than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. By requiring manufacturers to add a safety valve, the water temperature can remain at a reasonable level while flowing through showers, sinks and bathtubs. The intent is to prevent unattended children from suffering burn injuries when playing with water or drawing a bath by themselves.
Third-degree burns resulted in severe and fatal complications
According to NPR Illinois, it took fewer than three seconds of contact with the 138-degree bathwater for it to inflict severe third-degree burns on the toddler’s leg. The young girl required two months of hospitalization and 19 separate surgeries.
While receiving her extended medical treatment, the toddler also developed an infection that required amputation below her right knee. Her heart eventually stopped after numerous antibiotics forced her onto kidney dialysis.
Manufacturers are strictly liable for injuries
When a manufacturer designs a product with a defect or flaw that causes an injury, the company is strictly liable for any fatalities or harm. There is a duty of care to test designs and ensure that the product does not cause any harm to users or their family members. If a design appears faulty during the testing phase, the manufacturer must change it before selling the product.
During the trial, testimony provided by experts disclosed that each year, hot water temperatures scald as many as 2,000 individuals. The manufacturer of the water heater includes a high-temperature safety valve on its higher-priced models, but It should have also designed its lower-end models to include the safety feature.