If you have a baby on the way, here’s an important statistic: drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death among children between the ages of 1 and 4, and it only takes a few inches of water to kill a child. Although outdoor pools are the leading threat, bathtubs are the second most common place a child can drown. Although the bathtub is a major danger zone for a child, the potential risks found in a bathroom range from accidental poisoning to electrocution. Below are the primary danger zones, along with childproofing tips for each.
Danger Zone #1: Bathtub
Once your baby outgrows their baby bathtub, they’ll be ready to take baths in a regular tub – but not before you spend some time childproofing. To prevent scalds, adjust the thermostat so your tap water is no warmer than 120°F, and test the bathwater on your wrist before putting your child into the bath. If you live in an apartment and can’t control the water temperature, you can purchase showerheads and faucets with anti-scald technologies. Never leave your child unattended during a bath, for any amount of time. If you need to answer the phone or door, take your baby with you – a drowning can occur in just one or two inches of water, and in a matter of seconds.
Danger Zone #2: Electricity
While curling irons and flat irons should be kept away from children for obvious reasons, common bathroom appliances pose more than a burn risk: they can cause fatal electrocutions. In order to avoid electrocutions, keep all appliances locked away and out of reach when not in use. As with other rooms, all exposed outlets should be covered – especially those located near the bathroom sink or tub. In order to get used to the idea of putting appliances away after use, start doing this as soon as you find out you’re pregnant – that way, putting them away will be second nature by the time your baby is born.
Danger Zone #3: Products & Medication
Did you know a child goes to the emergency room every eight minutes for medicine poisoning? If possible, you should store medications, cleaning products, and sharp bathroom-related items on a high shelf in a linen cabinet, or locked away in a cabinet with a latch. You might think keeping these items in a medicine cabinet or under the sink might do the trick, but young children are naturally curious and will find their way into these areas if there isn’t a lock. Latches designed to keep kids from accessing the contents of a cabinet are a highly effective and affordable way to provide parents with peace of mind.
Danger Zone #4: Toilets
As previously mentioned, babies and young children are curious by nature, and can easily fall into a toilet headfirst. In order to avoid accidental drownings, always keep the toilet lid down and install a toilet lock. Parents should educate all family members who use the bathroom to close the door when not in use, and to re-engage the toilet lock after each use. Additionally, you don’t want your child to use the toilet as a stepping stool to reach the sink, so keep a stool in the bathroom which your child can use to reach the sink when they wash their hands or brush their teeth.
Other Bathroom Childproofing Tips
When childproofing a bathroom, get on your hands and knees so you can view the bathroom from your child’s point of view. If towel bars can be used as handrails by a climbing child, move them to a different area. Check the laundry chute or hamper to make sure your baby can’t get trapped in it, and hide the trashcan behind a locked door. If your bathroom floor gets slippery when wet, purchase a bath mat for inside and outside the tub – just be sure to find ones that dry quickly, as mold and mildew can quickly become an issue.