My son’s favorite Christmas present? Not the giant car track or the activity table that I was excited about giving him for months and months. His favorite present is actually the $2 stocking stuffer bath crayons that I purchased last minute. He could sit in the bathtub for hours just scribbling on the walls. He’s quite the little artist, and with a canvas as big as the bath tub, getting clean is his new favorite occupation.
Whether or not your kids like to take baths, it’s important to be educated about bath safety. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 292 children under the age of 5 died from drowning in a bathtub between 1996 and 1999 alone. But drowning isn’t the only bath-safety concern; burns from hot water and injuries from slippery surfaces are also a problem. In recognition of National Bath Safety Month, here are some helpful tips to keep your kids safe in the tub.
Never leave your child unattended near water
You’re probably going to hear me repeat this a few times – with good reason! Children can drown in less than an inch of water, and it can happen in as little as 30 seconds. So even though you’re just answering the phone or grabbing a fresh towel, leaving your child alone in the tub could have fatal consequences. Don’t leave your child unattended in the bathroom; it’s just not worth it.
Check the water temperature
According to SafeKids.org, hot tap water accounts for nearly one in four of all scald burns (burns from liquids) among children. Too-hot bath water could easily scald your child’s skin, and believe it or not, this type of burn can be fatal. Here are a few things to remember when you’re filling up the tub.
- Set the thermostat on your water heater to 120 degrees F. Prevent dangerously hot water by stopping it at the source.
- Don’t put your child in the tub while the water is running. The temperature could suddenly change and you wouldn’t even know it.
- Test the temperature with your wrist or elbow. These areas of your skin are more sensitive than your hands.
- Use a bath thermometer. To be absolutely certain about the temperature, use a bath thermometer. The water temperature should not exceed 100° F.
Don’t overfill the tub
Minimize the risk of drowning by filling the tub with as little water as possible. Babies only need an inch or two of water to get clean. For kids that can sit up on their own, don’t fill the tub any higher than waist height.
Use safety gear
Even the most sure-footed adults can slip in the shower. That’s why it’s important to take measures to prevent falls and minimize injuries. Here are some key items that you should purchase for a safe bathtub.
- A skid-proof mat. The bottom of the tub can be very slippery, so to keep little bottoms and feet from slip-sliding around, lay a skid-proof mat on the tub floor.
- A spout cover. In the event of a slip, you don’t want your precious little guy or gal to hit their soft head on a hard metal spout. Buy a cushioned spout cover to prevent injury.
- A bath mat. To prevent a slip-and-fall situation upon exiting the tub, buy a cushy bath mat to absorb water and keep the bathroom floor from becoming a hazard.
Don’t depend on bath seats
While a bath seat can keep your little tadpole from wriggling all over the place, it’s not a substitute for watchful care. Many parents make the mistake of thinking that a bath seat is the equivalent of parental supervision; in reality, it’s just an aid to help you get your child clean. Whether you use a bath seat or not, your child should never be left unattended.
When every second counts, knowledge of CPR can be your most valuable asset. Why wouldn’t you do everything possible to make sure your child stays safe? You can find an American Red Cross CPR class by visiting RedCross.org, or by checking with your local fire department.
Keep seniors safe, too
Bathrooms are a common place for slip-and-fall accidents, and they can be just as dangerous for senior citizens as they are for young children. The best thing you can do for aging relatives and neighbors is to make sure that they have a bathtub or shower that’s safe for them to use. It may cost a little bit of money to get the bathroom outfitted with solid grab bars or a senior-friendly tub door, but it will be worth every penny to ensure that they can bathe safely.
Educating yourself and others about bath safety can save lives. By taking safety measures, you can prevent drowning, burns and other injuries; for a baby, it could be the difference between life and death.
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