We have water all around us, both at home and outdoors. We choose to spend our leisure time near water. Going to the beach is a treat. Water is an almost irresistible magnet for most people, and children are no exception. Unfortunately, water can be a delight but in seconds can turn into a disaster. Not only is there a danger of drowning, but also of scalding. Sadly, even children who escape a near-drowning can be left with long-term brain injuries.
Here are some tips to help you keep your children safe around water in the home.
- First things first – never leave your child alone or unsupervised near water. Most drownings happen at home, on farms or in streams, lakes and rivers. They are all preventable.
- If your child is out of your reach, you are too far away. Drowning can happen in seconds, in silence and un-noticed. Pay attention to your children when they are near water. Teach them to stay away from edges and not to run or jump near water.
- Teach your children to swim as early as possible, but even when they are competent swimmers, never leave them unsupervised.
- If you have a baby or a toddler who is still in diapers, he or she is especially vulnerable. The diaper will fill with water and pull the child under the surface.
Even rain puddles can be deep enough to cause drowning.
Install a small slide-bolt near the top of the outside of the bathroom door. Use it to prevent small children from going into the bathroom without your knowledge. This single measure can prevent drowning, slipping, electrocution and scalding accidents. Use child-safety-conscious bathroom fittings, step stools, non-slip safety bath decals in the tub, shower and on tile floors.
Install toilet seat locks and child toilet seats. It may seem unlikely, but many small children have drowned in toilet bowls.
Make sure that all electrical outlets, including those in the bathroom, are secure from small fingers.
Keep all medication, dietary supplements containing iron locked away from children. Many people do not realize that many commercial toothpastes contain ingredients which are poisonous – that is why we are told not to swallow it. A small child can die just from eating the contents of half a tube of toothpaste. Many mouthwashes contain alcohol too, that’s not really something we want our babies to be drinking.
Hot tap water is dangerous, it causes almost a quarter of all scalds to children and is responsible for more hospital visits and deaths than other liquid burns. Just three seconds of contact with water at more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit can cause a third-degree burn which will require surgery and possibly skin grafts. Children aged 4 or less are twice as likely to die from this type of burn than children aged 5 to 14. Turn down your water thermostat to below 120 degrees Fahrenheit or 48 degrees Celsius.
Test the water temperature every time before you place a child into the water. As a guide, the temperature of bath water should be no more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit for a child’s bath. Although some government publications suggest using your elbow to test water temperature, we would strongly suggest that you do not. Our elbows are subject to all kinds of weather and abrasions and the skin there is usually quite tough – not at all like a child’s tender skin. Use the inside of your wrist or elbow instead. Try this comparison for yourself.
When your child is in the bath or shower, teach them that only you may adjust the water temperature. When you have finished with the tub, shower or sink ensure you set the temperature to “cold”, and always drain the water as soon as you are finished with it.
Please don’t think that these accidents will not happen in your home. Burns (scalds) and fires are the leading cause of death among children under the age of 14 in the USA.
Never leave your child unsupervised in the bathroom or near any water. They can drown in one inch of water. One inch! Don’t leave them alone.