A TEENAGER who suffered permanent facial disfigurement from scalding hot bath water when he was a baby yesterday went to the Scottish Parliament to campaign for greater protection for the public.
Darren Ferguson, 17, from Stenhousemuir, appeared before Holyrood’s public petitions committee to call for regulations to ensure thermostats - which prevent tap water reaching scalding point - be installed in new buildings and renovated properties from May next year.
Mr Ferguson, who has undergone 59 major operations, numerous minor operations and laser surgery since being scalded on the face and chest by bath water when he was just six-months-old, said the thermostatic device cost just £80, but could save lives and prevent suffering.
He told the committee: "How can anyone say that years of mental and physical pain, a lifetime of disfigurement and the huge costs to the National Health Service are not worth an investment of £80 to save children and families in the future having to endure all that I and my family have had to suffer?"
Sounds sensible enough, doesn't it? Of course, right-wing bastards like me might make some preposterous claim about how it's the responsibility of parents not to pour boiling water onto their children, not the responsibility of the government to ensure we all live in a giant padded bubble, or we might point out the statistical fallacy in comparing all the costs to the NHS of treating every single scald victim to the cost of the device (but not of fitting it) required to prevent scalds in just one household, but everyone knows our real agenda is just to Oppress The Poor.
But, quite apart from the rights and wrongs of ever-greater state intrusion into our lives, there is another problem:
- Destroying the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease requires raising the temperature of water to at least 140°F (60°C).
- But, at the temperature 140°F (60°C), water can cause third-degree burns in children in one second and adults in five seconds.
When I worked at British Gas Services, we were taught a very simple rule about central heating systems: if the water from the hot water tap doesn't burn you, it's dangerously cold.
Unfortunately, The Scotsman's article is a bit vague about this "thermostatic device", so we don't know whether they're talking about a thermostatic mixing valve, which is a genuine solution to the problem, or just any old thermostat. Thing is, I suspect the Scottish Executive don't know either. I wonder how much of our money they'll spend on finding out?