In June, as swimming pools opened for the summer across the country, the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a safety advisory to the public in an effort to raise awareness about child drowning and the ways to prevent swimming related deaths and injuries. Now, as pools close for the fall and winter, a new CPSC advisory seeks to keep children safe in bathtubs and child bathing equipment. “After pools, more children drown in bathtubs than in any other product in and around the home,” the advisory says.
From 2003 to 2005, the CPSC received an average of 90 reports each year of children under age five drowning. 62 percent of the fatalities occurred in bathtubs, followed by bathinettes (15%), buckets and pails (11%), landscaping or yard products such as ponds and fountains (6%), and other equipment (4%).
The CPSC received an annual average of 39 reports of non-fatal submersion incidents or near drowning from 2005 to 2007. Most of the childhood deaths and injuries involved children younger than 2 years old.
CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum urged caregivers to remain constantly vigilant when their children are exposed to water.
“What parents need to know is that anywhere there is water, there is a potential drowning hazard to children. Parents shouldn’t let their guard down; young children need constant supervision around bathtubs, bath seats and buckets,” Tenenbaum said.
A lapse in supervision is the cause of most of the reported incidents. According to the CPSC, all it takes is a moment for a child to drown. The simple act of answering the phone or door, fetching a towel, or some other distraction greatly endangers a child. In some of the reported incidents, parents left their children under the supervision of older siblings.
The CPSC issued the following tips to help parents keep their children safe in bathtubs and other bodies of water:
- Never leave young children alone, even for a moment, near any water. Young children can drown quickly in even small amounts of water.
- Always keep a young child within arm’s reach in a bathtub. If you must leave, take the child with you.
- Don’t leave a baby or toddler in a bathtub under the care of another young child.
- Never leave a bucket containing even a small amount of liquid unattended. Toddlers can fall headfirst into buckets and drown. After using a bucket, always empty and store it where young children cannot reach it. Don’t leave buckets outside where they can collect rainwater.
- Learn CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). It can be a lifesaver when seconds count.