The words “water safety” most often bring to mind emergency preparedness and responsible behavior in and around swimming pools. There is no doubt that maintaining a clean and safe swimming pool and surrounding area, understanding the risks associated with owning a swimming pool, taking actions to prevent drowning, teaching children to swim, and becoming trained to respond in emergency situations are incredibly important when it comes to home swimming pool safety. But since most of us aren’t using our swimming pools right now, today I’d like to highlight a less-publicized but just-as-important kind of water safety: keeping infants and young children safe in the bathroom.
January is National Bath Safety Month. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages one to four years, and approximately 100 children under the age of five drown in bathtubs, buckets, or toilets each year. Drowning can occur in just seconds and in only TWO INCHES of water.
My mom often tells the story of finding me, as a toddler, stuck upside down inside my toy box. I had flipped forward onto my head while attempting to pull a stuffed animal from the bottom of the box, and there I remained – feet straight up in air – until my mom heard my cries for help and pulled me out. This scenario could just as easily have played out with a bathtub, bucket full of water, or toilet in place of the toy box, and with a much more devastating outcome.
Bathroom drowning, just like home swimming pool drowning, is preventable. The American Red Cross has compiled a great deal of valuable information on keeping infants and children safe in and around water in your home (links below), but here are a few of the most important and potentially life-saving recommendations:
– Empty bathtubs and buckets immediately after use, and use safety locks on toilets.
– Never leave infants or young children unattended in or near water.
– Never trust an older child to supervise a younger child, or trust a bath seat to keep an infant safe.
– Never allow children to roughhouse in the bathtub.