Written by Sarah Thebarge, Physician Assistant
For many parents and kids, bath time is a fun and relaxing part of their bedtime routine. However, bath time can also be hazardous if parents don’t take precautions to keep their little ones safe while they’re splashing in the tub.
For instance, in the U.S., 78% of bathtub drowning deaths occur in children 5 years old and younger. Bath time can also increase the risk of head injuries, thermal burns, and choking.
Here are tips every parent should follow to keep their little ones safe during bath time:
1. Never leave a child unattended
It’s important to never, ever leave a young child alone in the bathroom. If the doorbell rings or another child is calling for you or you have to answer the phone,
It only takes a second for an unattended child to fall, accidentally turn on the hot water, or end up face-down in the water unable to get up. If you’re not there to intervene, your child can be seriously harmed.
2. Leave distractions outside the bathroom
It’s not enough for a parent to be physically present with their child in the bathroom at all times; parents need to be mentally present as well.
Any distractions -- including tablets, cell phones, magazines, and books -- should be left outside of the bathroom so you can carefully watch your child. Since accidents can happen in the blink of an eye, it’s important to be as vigilant as possible.
3. Beware of slipping hazards
Your bathroom is probably the smallest room in your home -- but it’s also statistically the most dangerous. Hundreds of thousands of people end up in emergency rooms every year due to an injury they suffered in the bathroom. The most common of these injuries is a slip-and-fall accident in the shower or tub.
Take precautions against this hazard by installing anti-slip strips in the tub, securing bathroom rugs, and cleaning up any wet spots on the bathroom floor. Always make sure your child is sitting while in the tub and, depending on their age, ensure you lift them fully in and out of the tub or provide a helping hand with sturdy feet.
4. Check the water temperature (and turn off the spigot) before your child gets in
The greatest number of burns in children under 3 years old are caused by scalding liquids -- and the most common of these liquids is hot tap water. Thankfully, the majority of these burns are preventable if parents take some simple precautions.
To avoid a bathwater burn injury, draw the bath, check the water temperature, and turn off the spigot before you put your child into the water. By following these steps, you’ll ensure that your child won’t be burned by being put into water that’s too hot, or by suddenly changing water temperatures as the tub is filling. If you decide to add cold water to cool the tub down, ensure you thoroughly mix the water in the tub so there are no hot spots.
5. Make sure bath toys are safe
Playing with toys in the tub is a favorite activity for most young children. Just make sure that the toys your child is playing with don’t present a choking hazard.
To ensure your child’s bath toys are safe, follow age guidelines on the toy’s packaging, inspect toys for any damaged or missing parts, and monitor the news for any recalls issued by toy manufacturers.
You can also purchase a small-part tester (or “choke tube”) the size of a small child’s windpipe. If a toy is equal to or smaller than the small-parts tester, it’s too small for your child to be playing with at that age.
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