The bathtub – a death trap
Sipho Yanano explains why bath time can be hazardous for small children.
According to the website gems.gov.za, three children drown a day (1095 a year) on average in South Africa. Most drownings take place at home, when the child is in the care of one or two parents, and when the child has been out of sight for under 5 minutes.
Drowning is a silent and quick killer. The child makes no sound and usually dies within three minutes.
Children under 3 are most at risk of drowning. Children aged 3 to 4 risk drowning in swimming pools. While infants under a year drown in the bath when they left alone even for a few minutes.
Bathing rings and seats give parents a false sense of security. When left unattended in the bathtub children have drowned while using these devices. The following scenarios, listed on the website dds.ca.gov, have caused a child to drown when bathing with a ring or seat:
1. The suction cups unexpectedly release, allowing the device with baby to tip over into the water.
2. Entrapment – the baby slips between the legs of the bath ring and becomes trapped under water.
3. Climbing out – the baby climbs out of the product and drowns.
4. A tragic story: A baby was playing in a bath seat. The doorbell rang and the mother left for a moment believing the seat would keep her infant safe. While away, the infant reached over for a toy and the suction bottom came loose. The child tipped facedown into the water. The mother returned quickly but it was still too late.
Ways to prevent bathtub drowning
1. Children under 6 should not be left alone in a bathroom with a tub filled with water.
2. Empty the bath after baths and make sure the bathtub is empty before you leave.
3. Older siblings bathing with younger siblings should not be left in charge of the younger child. The parent should always be in charge. An adult should be in the bathroom during the bath.
4. Never rely on bath rings and seats to protect your child from drowning.
5. Only fill the bathtub with water covering your child’s feet as a child can drown in water which is 2.5cm deep.
The principle therefore is never leave your child/children in a bathtub with water unattended.
Do you ensure that your child is always accompanied during bath time?