Did you know more than 43,000 children are injured in the bathtub and shower every year in the United States? January is National Bath Safety Month.

Bath time can be one of the most enjoyable parts of the day for your child, but it can also be one of the most dangerous. Below are five tips I would like to share to help keep your little ones safe in the tub.

  1. Supervision. Despite the temptation to step out of the bathroom for “just a second,” you should never leave a young child unattended in the bath. Many people believe they will hear a splash or a noise from a child in distress, but this is not so.  Infants and toddlers can simply slip under the water silently. So never take a risk, not even for a moment.  For children under the age of one, make sure you have everything you need within arm’s reach before you start.
  2. Falls. Children are slippery when wet! So is the tub, the shower and the floor. In fact, most of the bath injuries are from slips and falls. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent this most common bath-time injury. Consider using a non-slip mat or coating for the tub and shower. There are also bath spout covers that can help prevent cuts, bumps and bruises.
  3. Water temperature.  Set your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit (48.9 degrees Celcius) or less to prevent accidental burns. Curious toddlers love to turn on the water themselves and can quickly sustain a burn if the water is too hot. It is also a good habit to turn the cold faucet before the hot – a great thing to-teach your kids too!
  4. Toilets, medications and cleaning products.  Bathrooms in general can be dangerous places for children. Toilet seat covers should be installed on every toilet in the home.  Medications and cleaning products should be stored out of a child’s reach, preferably up high and in a closet or cabinet with a safety lock. Shaving razors also need to be stored away and out of reach.
  5. Hair dryers. Electrical devices such as hair dryers and curling irons can cause electrical injury if they were to fall into water.  Not to mention they both can cause serious burns! These devices must be unplugged when not in use and stored up high, in a locked cabinet or closet, or even in another room. 

Follow these five easy steps so you can minimize the risk of injury in the bathroom and enjoy bath time with your child!   

Laura Chapman, M.D.

Laura Chapman, MD, is an emergency medicine physician with Hasbro Children’s Hospital and is also the Associate Medical Director for Pediatric Emergency Medicine.