Tips for bath time safety

Consumer Reports News: July 20, 2009 11:03 AM

Anyone who’s bathed young children knows it can be a lot of fun, if a bit messy. But getting splashed isn’t the only thing to watch out for at bath time. Accidental injuries in bathtubs or shower units account for about 43,600 visits to U.S. emergency rooms every year, with slips and falls accounting for around 8 in 10 accidents, according to research from the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio.

Kids age 4 or younger are most at risk of injury, and bath tubs account for more injuries than shower units. A combination of slippery surfaces, water, and hard edges, such as faucets, can spell disaster for small children who are still a bit wobbly on their feet.

Children that age tend to hit their faces or heads when they take a tumble, doctors say, because they haven’t the strength to break their fall with their hands or arms, and they have a relatively high center of gravity. The study found that cuts and bruises to the face or head were the most common injury.

Doctors say there needs to be more research to establish standards for safe, nonslip surfaces for bath tubs and shower units. They say these types of accidents often happen too fast for the parent or caregiver to react, even when they’re keeping a close eye on bath time.

What you need to know. The doctors who did the study made these recommendations for safe bath times:

  • Consider installing grab bars in the tub
  • Use nonslip mats both inside and outside the shower unit or tub
  • Make sure glass shower-unit enclosures are shatterproof
  • Check water temperature carefully
  • Always supervise young children in the tub or shower.

Anna Sayburn, patient editor, BMJ Group

ConsumerReportsHealth.org has partnered with The BMJ Group (British Medical Journal) to monitor the latest medical research and assess the evidence to help you decide which news you should use.

Get more tips on keeping your baby safe during bath time, and for more news and research on children's health, sign up for our free Child and Teen e-newsletter


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