“Too many young children are drowning,” Inez Tenenbaum, Chairwoman of the U.S Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), warned in a recent announcement about drowning risks around the home. Surprisingly, Ms. Tenenbaum wasn’t speaking of the dangers posed by swimming pools and hot tubs, but by other less obvious and potentially deadly products around the home – essentially, anywhere an accumulation of water is present.
“Just as with pools, I urge parents and caregivers to childproof their home and constantly supervise young children around bathtubs, bath seats and buckets,” Ms. Tenenbaum said. “Taking extra safety steps at home can help prevent a tragic drowning.”
According to a news CPSC report, in a five-year period spanning 2006 through 2010, 684 submersion incidents involving children younger than 5 years old occurred in bathtubs, buckets, bath seats, toilets, ponds and other decorative landscaping features, and even in objects such as washing machines. Of those incidents, the majority (434) resulted in death. Just 17 of the incidents resulted in no known injuries.
All but 18 percent of the victims were younger than 2 years old, and 81 percent of the incidents involved bathtubs and bath-related products. The CPSC report notes that bathtubs are the second most deadly drowning hazard around the home behind swimming pools.
The CPSC determined that 28 percent of the fatalities could be attributed to a lapse in supervision, such as a parent or caregiver leaving the bathroom to answer the phone or door, or to retrieve a towel while the child remains in the bathtub. In 23 percent of the incidents, the guardian left the child with another usually older child, to supervise.
In 10 percent of the incidents, the child was found submerged outside the home, such as in a bucket or pond, while another 3 percent were found inside the home in a trash can, bucket, or other container used for cleaning.
To help raise awareness of all the serious drowning risks around the home, the CPSC urges parents and other guardians to follow these safety tips:
- Never leave young children alone near any water or tub or basin with fluid. Young children can drown in even small amounts of liquid.
- 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 young child in a bathtub under the care of another child.
- Never leave a bucket containing even a small amount of liquid unattended. Toddlers are top heavy and they 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.
- Consider placing locks on toilet seat covers in case a young child wanders into the bathroom.
- Learn CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). It can be a lifesaver when seconds count.