Maria Diodonet, Injury Prevention Coordinator, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children
Maria Diodonet, Injury Prevention Coordinator, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children

Being aware of potential hazards can help to prevent incidents and injuries.

Bath time is essential to caring for a child and is often part of the daily routine. However, there are several hazards to be aware of, including the risk of drowning, the threat of scalding, the concern about electrical shocks from appliances and outlets, and the dangers of potential poisons such as cleaning products and medications.

Each year, more than 43,000 children receive emergency treatment for bathtub- and shower-related injuries. More than half of these occur in children younger than 5 years old, with 2-year-olds suffering the largest number of injuries. 

Child supervision during bath time is of paramount importance. By monitoring bath time, parents and caregivers can help prevent many potential accidents by responding promptly and intervening if necessary.

Many of these bathtub- and shower-related injuries can be prevented by following some simple tips:

Test the Temperature

Test the water temperature yourself before placing your child in the tub. Your baby’s skin is more sensitive than yours, so what you think of as a comfortable temperature may be far too hot for your little one. A too-hot bath can scald or burn your child’s skin. Your fingers can handle hotter temperatures, so dunk your wrist or elbow in the water to get a more accurate idea of how it will feel for your baby. A safe and comfortable bath temperature for a baby is no higher than 100 degrees. 

Stay Close to the Bathtub

Supervise young children - stay within arms’ reach of your child at all times, even when using a bath seat. Get everything ready in advance (for example, towels, clean clothes, diapers). Children can drown in an inch of water. Don’t turn your back even for a moment or leave babies in the care of another child. Ensure your child cannot grab or kick the faucet, as this can quickly cause a scald burn.

Check Your Surroundings

Be sure the area around the tub and in the bathroom is safe. Keep medicines in containers with child-resistant caps and locked away in a cabinet out of reach. Emergency rooms see too many cases of children ingesting medicines or illegal drugs when parents aren’t looking. Water is a conductor; unplug electrical appliances such as hairdryers and electric toothbrushes, and put them away when your child is having a bath.

Consider Using Swimming Pool Rules

Apply swimming pool rules: no running, and ensure your child is fully dried off to prevent a slip-and-fall. Slips, trips, and falls can cause deep cuts, bumps and bruises, broken bones, and serious head injuries. Prevent accidents by draining the bathtub after use, and removing any excess water, objects, or toys that may pose a slipping hazard.

If the proper precautions are taken, bath time can be a safe and fun experience for both child and parent. 

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