I’m sure many of you will agree that bath time is loads of fun for our kids. Whilst the bathroom is a fun place, it can also be a scary place with a number of dangerous hazards such as the drowning, burns and poisoning.
It’s important that you are always in the bathroom with your children before, during and after bath time. Drowning is a major cause of death in children under five years. According to the Consumer Products Safety Commision in the United States, 80% of the 87 children, under five years who drown at home each year, have drowned in the bathtub. Young children are top heavy and can slip suddenly and drown in very little water. Infants and toddlers also don’t have the upper body and core strength to lift themselves up if that slip under the water.
HOW TO RUN A BATH
- Keep your child away from the bath until the water is the right temperature.
- The safe temperature of bath water should be between 37oC and 38oC (36OC for a newborn). Children have thinner skin than adults so they can burn much more quickly. Even if the bath feels warm to you it may be hot to your little one. Your plumber can also set the thermostat of your geyser to a maximum of 50oC.
- Always fill your bath with cold water first. Your child could put his hand or foot in the water before the bath is ready and get burnt. If you have a mixer tap, run hot and cold together but start with the cold and slowly increase the amount of hot.
- Run cold water through the tap before your child gets into the bath to cool the tap and prevent them from getting burnt if they touch it.
- If you have a mixer tap, point the lever on the cold setting when you are finished running the bath to ensure the hot water does not get accidentally turned on in the bath.
- Do not overfill the bath. Fill the bath water to just over your little one’s knees.
HOW TO HAVE A S-A-F-E BATH
S: Supervision is key! Always supervise babies, toddlers and children less than six years in the bath and when you run the water. Never leave an older child to supervise.
A: Arrange everything you will need for bath time in advance for e.g. towel, soap, shampoo, nappy, clean clothes and any medications.
F: Feel the water with your elbow first. It should feel warm but not hot. You can also use a water thermometer. Remember to swirl the water around to ensure an even temperature with no hot pockets.
E: Empty the bath as soon as bath time is over.
SLIPS, TRIPS & FALLS
Slips, trips and falls in the bathtub and shower are a common cause of injury in young children and according to statistics more common than tub drownings.
Use a non-slip mat in the bath. If you are using a bath seat or ring, your child will still need to be supervised. A bath seat is not a safety device. These seats are actually associated with an increasing number of reported drownings. This is because the device gives parents a false sense of security and they are therefore more likely to leave their baby alone in the bath.
Infants should be bathed in the bathroom basin or a smaller infant bathtub. This way they can’t roll over or ever be completely covered by the water.
Wipe up any splashes before your kids get out the bath so that nobody, including you, can slip and hit their head. As your kids get older you should also teach them to remain seated in the bath and not to stand up and jump.
Be sure to keep a MiniKit in your bathroom for peace of mind. Each kit contains a range of thoughtfully selected first aid items geared towards common childhood injuries. You can purchase one here: https://www.oneaid.co.za/product/minikit/
WHEN CAN YOU STOP SUPERVISING YOUR CHILD IN THE BATH?
This is a difficult question to answer as children mature at different ages. Since most children who drown in bathtubs are under the age of five, the general consensus is children under the age of six should never be allowed to bath alone and even those over six should be closely monitored. Even if your child knows how to swim you should never be too far away.
OTHER BATHROOM HAZARDS
Toilet: luckily my daughter has never been interested in exploring the toilet bowl but I have had moms tell me how their child likes to play with the water in the toilet. Keep the toilet lids closed at all times and if your little one is particularly curious install a toilet-lid lock.
Appliances: make sure any electrical appliances in the bathroom are unplugged and out of reach when your child is having a bath. Regular plug sockets may actually not be fitted in bathrooms for safety reasons so rather keep extension cords out.
Medicines: many of us keep medication in the bathroom. Make sure they are all locked away, out of sight and out of reach.
Dangerous items: make sure you keep cosmetics, razor blades, nail scissors, cleaning products and other dangerous items away.
Don’t get distracted during bath time. Keep your phone on silent or rather keep it out of the bathroom and join in on the fun. You could also try having a shower with your child instead for some extra fun. My daughter loves this and the best part is that I manage to get cleaned up as well freeing up some time later in the evening for something else. Just make sure you get a slip-proof mat for the shower first.