The danger of drowning for young children is ever present in and around the home. Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death among children ages 1 to 4 years-old and it takes only a few inches of water for a young child to drown. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is urging parents and caregivers to look for and protect against drowning risks inside and around their homes.
A new CPSC report on in-home drownings and non-fatal submersions in products such as bathtubs, buckets, bath seats, toilets, and landscaping features indicates that from 2006 to 2010, there were 684 incidents involving children younger than five-years-old. This figure includes 434 fatalities (an average of 87 per year), 233 injuries, and 17 incidents with no known injuries.
Eighty-two percent of the victims were younger than the age of two and 81 percent of the incidents involved bathtubs or bath related products. After pools, bathtubs are the second leading location where young children drown. CPSC’s analysis of the fatalities found that 92 percent of the incidents occurred in residential settings.
“Too many young children are drowning,” said Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. “Just as with pools, I urge parents and caregivers to childproof their home and constantly supervise young children around bathtubs, bath seats and buckets. Taking extra safety steps at home can help prevent a tragic drowning.”
Of the reported fatalities, 28 percent involved a lapse in supervision, such as a parent or caregiver leaving the bathroom while the child was in the bathtub to answer the phone or door, or to retrieve a towel; in 23 percent, the child was left with another child, usually older; in 10 percent, the child was found in a product outside the home, such as decorative yard equipment or a bucket; and another 3 percent were found inside the home in a bucket/container or trash basket that was being used for cleaning.
CPSC’s drowning prevention safety tips include:
- 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.