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Bathroom Water Safety

What does water safety in the bathroom mean? We know to be hands-on when bathing a baby and to supervise when a preschooler takes a bath. But did you know that:

  • Among children 1–14, drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death, behind motor vehicle crashes.
  • Babies under age 1 who drown most often do so in a bathtub, bucket, or toilet.

How Can I Protect My Child?

The most important safety rule is: Never leave a young child unattended in the bathroom. This is especially important during bathing. Even a child who appears to be well propped in a safety tub or bath ring can slip down and drown. This can happen in seconds. Most bathtub drownings or accidental burns happen when a child is left unattended, even briefly.

Water temperature also is important. Hot water can be dangerous, particularly for kids younger than 5. Their skin is thinner than older kids' and adults', so can burn more easily. Just 3 seconds of exposure to tap water that's 140°F (60°C) can cause a third-degree burn.

You can reduce the risk of scalding by setting the water heater thermostat in your home to 120°F (49°C) and by always testing the water with your wrist or elbow before placing your child in the bath.

Preventing slips. Bathtubs can be slippery places. To keep kids safe, you can put anti-skid strips on the bottom of the tub or use a plastic bath mat that adheres to the tub. Put a rubber cover (or a washcloth) over the faucet to avoid injuries if your child bumps into it.

Eventually, kids want to take unsupervised baths. Kids mature at different rates. Some might be ready to be left alone in the tub at age 6 or 7, while others need mom or dad nearby longer. Of course, older kids and teens should be given privacy in the bathroom.

Toilets. Bathtubs aren't the only bathroom water hazard. To keep young kids safe, install a toilet-lid locking device and keep bathroom doors closed at all times. (Or you may want to install a doorknob cover.) And promptly wipe up any water spills, whether from the tub, sink, or toilet to prevent falls.

Reviewed by: Sarah K. Romero, MD
Date Reviewed: May 22, 2019

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