With rising energy costs more and more people are turning to old-school methods of keeping warm, such as hot water bottles
It seems that although around half of accidents with hot-water bottles are the result of improper filling or care, at least half were the result of spontaneous bursting.
Looking at the data from 50 patients who had suffered burns as a result of using a hot water bottle, the researchers found that 32% of injuries occurred while filling the bottle while another 18% was due to contact with an overly hot bottle.
However, 50% of injuries were also the result of a bottle bursting. Of those, eight cases were the result of improper care, ie sitting or stepping on the bottle by accident; but in the other 17 incidents there was no clear evidence that the patients had used the bottles incorrectly and the bottle appeared to have burst spontaneously. The most common areas for scalds were the abdomen and lower limbs and in some cases burns were so severe that they required skin grafts.
But, say the researchers, they believe that far more people experience burns but don’t report it. “People try and manage the burns themselves, often because they are embarrassed about what they have done or the area they have burnt, such as their genitalia,” says Quentin Frew, visiting clinical fellow at Anglia Ruskin.
How to protect yourself
Check your bottle. Make sure it has the Kitemark safety standard mark on it. And regularly check it for cracks or signs of wear and tear. If in doubt, throw it out.
Store it carefully. “One common problem is people storing them incorrectly, which can cause the rubber to perish,” says Frew. Keep it flat and away from heat sources. Don’t tighten the lid too much as over time this will cause the seal to wear out.
Use the tap. It’s tempting to put boiling water in so that it gives off a good amount of heat, but if you use hot tap water instead if the bottle does break you’ll suffer less severe burns.
Don't overfill the bottle - fill to three quarters full - to avoid rupture.
For children, the elderly or disabled people use the bottle to warm the bed, then remove it.
Check for a daisy-shaped symbol on the bottle – the figure in the middle indicates which year the bottle was made.