Child safety experts seek law barring sale of dangerous water heaters, kettles

Bill aims to protect children from accidental burns, disfigurement and even death.

The National Center for Child Safety and Health, Beterem, demands that the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Employment withdraw its objections to a bill aimed at protecting thousands of children from accidental burns, disfigurement and even death. The private member's bill was presented by MK Arye Eldad, who in private life is a maxillofacial surgeon and burns expert on leave from Hadassah-University Medical Center in Jerusalem's Ein Kerem. The bill would require all water boilers to heat their water below 50 Celsius and bar the sale of electric kettles and samovars whose lids are not locked on the top to prevent scalding water from pouring out if tipped over. Every year, some 1,400 children - 1,000 of them under the age of five - are hospitalized with injuries from burns from such household appliances. Many suffer permanent scars as a result. Many of them are children from large religious Jewish families whose electric samovar or kettle is left on over Shabbat. Beterem won support from the Israel Plastic Surgeons Society and the Israel Pediatrics Society in calling on the ministry to back the legislation. It is due to be raised in the Knesset Labor, Social Affairs and Health Committee on Tuesday to prepare it for its first reading. The ministry, headed by Ehud Olmert, who also serves as finance minister, has opposed the bill because it wants the requirements set down only in Israel Standards Institute regulations and not in a law. But Beterem argues that a law is preferable because experience shows that agreeing on standards is very complicated and takes a much longer time. If the bill is not voted on in the Knesset committee this week, before the Knesset is dispersed, the entire process will have to start all over again, Beterem director-general Dr. Michal Hemmo-Lotem said.