A doctor has issued an urgent warning as many Brits turn to hot water bottles rather than switching heating on due to the surge in energy prices.
Hot water bottle injuries are actually relatively common – with Swansea Bay University Health Board treating burns around 30 times per year.
Speaking to The Mirror, Dr Deborah Lee, Dr Fox Online Pharmacy, has warned that if used incorrectly, hot water bottles can lead to second and third-degree burns which often affect the skin on the groin and legs.
Injuries can cause nerve and muscle damage, with in turn can affect the ability to walk.
Prolonged use of hot water bottles can also lead to a rash known as erythema ab igne – which is characterised by redness, hyperpigmentation and scarring at the site of the heat.
According to Dr Lee, if you are considering using a water bottle, you need to make sure it's new, or one made out of good quality rubber with a proper seal.
She added: "Make sure you also use a properly fitted hot water bottle cover."
Crucially – you should never use boiling water in a hot water bottle.
Dr Lee explained: "Fill the hot water bottle with water that is hot – but not boiling. The best thing to do is boil water in the kettle but wait a few minutes for it to cool before using it.
"Don't fill your hot water bottle with the tap."
Simply hold the bottle upright with your thumb and fingers around the neck, filling it slowly and taking care as the hot water can splash back towards you.
Dr Deborah added: "Only fill the bottle two-thirds full, then lay the bottle flat on the worktop, keeping the neck end vertical to keep the water inside, and make sure you then expel about one-third of the air in the bottle by pressing down with one hand.
"Screw the cap on tightly so there can be no water leakage."
Make sure children don't fill hot water bottles – only adults.
Instead of putting it directly on your body, Dr Lee recommends putting the hot water bottle in your bed to warm up – but don't leave it in when you're in it.
"This is dangerous," warns Dr Lee.
Also make sure you "treat your hot water bottle with respect". That means, don't "squeeze it, sit on it, throw it or abuse it in any other way. This is likely to result in the bottle splitting, leaking or exploding."
Make sure your hot water bottle conforms with the British Safety Standard, and comes with a guarantee against any defects.
And never use a hot water bottle that is more than two years old, as rubber disintegrates over time, explains Dr Lee.
Lastly, you should never put your hot water bottle in the microwave.
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