While most of us may not think of a bathroom as a dangerous place, it often is where home injuries occur. From infants to the elderly, bathrooms are notorious for being places one can slip and fall, drown, be scalded and even electrocuted.
Young children are particularly vulnerable to accidents in the bathroom. The simplest way to avoid bathroom injuries is to make sure that an adult is always with an infant, toddler or young child when he or she is in the room. This may mean installing a latch on the door at adult height so the child can't get into the bathroom when you aren't around. Also, be sure any lock on the door can be unlocked from the outside, just in case your child locks him or herself in.
Here are 5 tips to help prevent bathroom injuries to young children:
1 Supervision: Children can drown in only a few inches of water, so never leave a young child alone in the bath, even for a moment. If you can't ignore the doorbell or the phone, wrap your child in a towel and take him along when you go to answer them. Bath seats and rings are meant to be bathing aids and will not prevent drowning if the child is left unattended. Never leave water in the bathtub when it is not in use. It's also important to have anything and everything you think you'll need within arm's reach before getting down to business. So that you don’t have to step away from your child, have items such as soap and shampoo, washcloths, a towel or two, moisturizer for infants, diapering supplies and a change of clothes within reach.
2 Slips and falls: Install no-slip strips on the bottom of the bathtub. Put a cushioned cover over the water faucet so your child won't be hurt if he bumps his head against it. Get in the habit of closing the lid of the toilet, and get a toilet lid lock. A curious toddler who tries to play in the water can lose his balance and fall in. Potty-training is a time when parents should be in the bathroom to make sure curious toddlers don’t decide to play with the toilet water.
3 Water temperature: To prevent scalding, adjust your water heater so the hottest temperature at the faucet is no more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit (48.9 degrees Celsius). Test the water with your wrist or elbow to check that it feels warm, not hot. When your child is old enough to turn the faucets, teach him to start the cold water before the hot.
4 Medicine and toiletry storage: Keep all medicines in containers with safety caps. Remember, however, that these caps are child-resistant, not childproof, so store all medicines and cosmetics high and out of reach in a locked cabinet. Don't keep toothpaste, soaps, shampoos, and other frequently used items in the same cabinet. Instead, store them in a hard-to-reach cabinet equipped with a safety latch or locks.
5 Electric appliances: If you use electrical appliances in the bathroom, particularly hair dryers and razors, be sure to unplug them and store them in a cabinet with a safety lock when they aren't in use. It is better to use them in another room where there is no water. An electrician can install special bathroom wall sockets (ground-fault circuit interrupters) that can lessen the likelihood of electrical injury when an appliance falls into the sink or bathwater.
Every year, young children are injured or die in bathrooms. Many families never think to lock a bathroom door when no one is in it, but making sure there is a lock in place and is used may prevent an unnecessary tragedy.