Childhood drownings preventable

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U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

via Moak: Childhood drownings preventable, clarionledger.com, 1/20/2015

PDF: Bathtub

Link to Video But I was only gone for a moment…

As parents, there are few things that fill us with dread more than hearing about a child who has died from an accident. It’s not a conversation we like to have, but even in the age of instant information, hardly a day goes by that we don’t hear about a family grieving the loss or injury of a child — especially when that loss could have been prevented.

The average household is actually full of hazards for youngsters, ranging from fall hazards such as stairs and climbable furniture; poisons; strangling hazards; electricity; swallow-able objects and suffocation hazards, such as refrigerators and plastic bags. Anyone who’s been around toddlers knows they’re everywhere; pushing and pulling, tasting, opening and closing doors, and exploring their wonderful little world with all five senses. Keeping your kids safe is a big job. Thankfully, most of our kids make it through, but few parents can say their kids were 100 percent injury-free. (I know my brothers and I caused my parents to make quite a few panicked trips to the emergency room.)

In the past, I’ve written about some of these dangers: blind cords that can strangle, poisons lurking under the kitchen sink, furniture that can topple over onto kids, and leaving kids in hot cars. But a recent chilling video put out by the Consumer Product Safety Commission has been shining a light on the issue of childhood drownings.

But I was only gone for a moment… is hard to watch, even though it lasts just one minute. The shot is from the viewpoint of a child getting a bubble bath; it’s an idyllic and peaceful moment between mother and child, who can be heard cooing and babbling happily. Hearing the doorbell, the mom gets up to answer the door. In the next few seconds, the camera goes underwater, as mom comes back and cries out in alarm. I know I it made me cringe; it brought back the panicked memories of when my own kids were in danger.

The point is clear: Leaving your kids unattended in the tub (even for a short time) can be disastrous.

Recent statistics aren’t available, but we do know that, from 2006 to 2010, the CPSC reported 684 incidents involving children younger than 5. That means about 90 kids each year die from drowning, most in bathtubs or other large containers of water (including buckets and even toilets). CPSC statistics indicate most bathtub fatalities occurred when a caregiver or sibling left the room during a child’s bath. You may only intend to be away for a few seconds, but a child can easily drown in that time; besides, most of us really aren’t good at estimating how long we’ve been away; 5 minutes can fly by without us even realizing it.

Such videos provide some good — if painful — reminders of the vast responsibilities involved in helping keep your kids safe. So, it’s a good opportunity to remind ourselves — grandparents, this is for you, too — that awareness is your best friend when it comes to protecting small children.

But we’re not helpless when it comes to the danger of bathtub drowning. Here are a few tips, from the Kids Safety Network:

  • Always stay within an arm’s reach of your child when he or she is in or near the bathtub or toilet. If the doorbell or telephone rings, never leave your child alone or in the care of older children during bath time. Wrap your child in a towel and bring him or her with you.
  • If using a bathtub seat or supporting ring, constant adult supervision is still needed at all times. The seat can overturn or a baby may slip out into the water.
  • Put your cellphone away. Forget about all the other things that you have to do and give young children all of your attention when they are in the bathtub.
  • Once bath time is over, immediately drain the tub.
  • Keep toilet lids closed and use toilet seat locks to prevent drowning in the toilet. It’s also a good idea to keep doors to bathrooms and laundry rooms closed.
  • A bucket of water may seem like no big deal to you, but to a curious toddler, it’s an irresistible attraction. Do not leave a bucket containing even a small amount of liquid unattended. Toddlers are top heavy, which means they can easily fall headfirst into buckets and drown. After using a bucket, always empty and store it out of a child’s reach. Also don’t leave buckets outside where they can collect rainwater.
  • Learning CPR is always a good idea. It will give you great peace of mind, and in the process, you’ll learn a lot about how to be prepared for other life-threatening emergencies.

Finally, take a minute to watch the video “But I was only gone for a moment…,” atwww.cpsc.gov. It’s a reminder we all need to have.

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