Experts Urge Parents to 'Lifeguard Your Child' Following Bathtub Deaths
Newly-focused campaign follows news of bath tragedies
The deaths of two children who drowned in bathtubs this month are amplifying a key message at Cook Children's: lifeguard your child, even in the bathtub.
First, a 3-year-old child from Decatur, Texas died in early March after being left alone in the bath. According to CBS11, the mother said she was gone “for just a few minutes.”
Then, on Monday, a 6-week-old baby drowned in Fort Worth. NBC 5 reports the child's mother fell asleep in the tub with him.
In the midst of these two tragedies, Cook Children’s is launching the 'Lifeguard Your Child' bathtub drowning prevention campaign. The campaign's urgent message to parents: “Don’t ever take your eyes off of your child in a bathtub.”
“When talking to parents about bathtub safety, I like to stress ‘touch supervision’ in infants and young children.” said Corwin Warmink, medical director of Emergency Services at Cook Children’s. “This means you are close enough to reach your child at all times versus just watching them from a distance."
In 2018, 13 children were admitted to Cook Children's Medical Center for drowning in bathtubs. One of those children died.
While the ideal age for a child to bathe alone is up for discussion, Dr. Warmink says the general rule of thumb is around school age. “But it really depends on the child and his or her maturity level,” he adds.
Dana Walraven, manager of Community Health Outreach at Cook Children's, reminds parents there is never a safe amount of time to leave your child in the bath. She says if a doorbell rings or you need to leave the bath for even a brief moment, get the child out of the bathtub while you are gone.
“A child can drown in the time it takes to answer the phone,” Walraven said. “We ask parents for constant supervision of their child while in the water. You literally can't take your eyes off of a child while in the bathtub, even for a second. Bath time is a great time to bond with your baby, but it can be a dangerous time in and around water without proper adult supervision."
Bath Time Safety Tips
Follow these tried and true tips to keep your child safe during bath time:
- Always ensure an adult stays at the side of the tub, in reach of the child. This is too big of a responsibility for brothers or sisters.
- Avoid multi-tasking. This is not the time to prepare dinner, fold laundry or any other housekeeping tasks.
- Ignore distractions like the doorbell or phone calls.
- If you do have to leave during bath time, wrap the child in a towel and take them with you.
- Be prepared. Keep a towel and bath supplies close at hand, so you don't have to leave during bath time.
- Consider bath time as bonding time to relax with your baby or toddler. Bath toys like foam letters, animals that shoot water and waterproof books are a way to make bath tub more fun and teach them new things at the same time!
- Safe proof your home to prevent young children from accessing the bathroom without an adult.
- Drain the tub after each use.