About drowning and bath safety
Drowning is one of the major causes of death for children under 5 years.
Very young children are at higher risk of drowning than older children. This is because young children are top-heavy, aren’t aware of water risks, and don’t know how to get themselves out of dangerous situations.
Young children can slip into the bath or under the water very suddenly, and they can drown in only a few centimetres of water. Also, drowning can be very quick – 20 seconds is all it takes. And young children can drown silently, without coughing or splashing, so you might not even realise they’re in danger.
Bath time can be stressful because it usually happens at the end of the day when you’ve got a lot of things to do. When too many things are happening at once, it can increase the risk of injuries. If this sounds like your situation, you could consider changing your routine to make things easier.
Preventing drowning in the bath: tips
Constant adult supervision is the key to drowning prevention. Never leave your child alone near water, even for a minute.
- When you and your child are in the bathroom, make sure your child is within arm’s reach and sight at all times.
- If you’re called away to the phone or door, wrap your child in a towel and take them with you.
- Watch your child all the time, even if you’re using a bath seat or cradle. A bath seat isn’t a safety device. Without your supervision, bath seats won’t keep your child safe.
- Never leave older siblings to supervise younger children in the bath. They don’t have the skills to see and react to an emergency situation.
- Get everything ready in advance so you can stay with your child for bath time – towel, face washer, cotton wool, clean nappy and clean clothes.
- Consider turning your phone to silent and leaving it outside the bathroom if you think it might distract you.
- Beware of any other distractions that could take you away from the bath or make you lose track of time.
Bath and bathroom safety
- Run only enough water for washing and play. Belly-button height is plenty for a child who can sit up on their own.
- Use a non-slip bathmat in the bath if your bath doesn’t have a non-slip surface.
- Let the water out as soon as bath time is over.
- Keep bathroom and laundry doors shut when you’re not using them. This will stop young children getting to taps or water sources on their own.
- Keep plugs out of reach so that children can’t fill baths or sinks.
It’s important to learn first aid. It’s also a good idea to attend a first aid course every 3 years and update CPR skills every year. You can print out our illustrated guide to baby CPR and our illustrated guide to child CPR for display in or near your bathroom.