WASHINGTON, D.C. As part of Baby Safety Month, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is warning parents and caregivers about in-home drowning hazards. "Summer is over and many pools are now closed, but drowning dangers never end," said CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton. "Parents of young children need to know there are other drowning hazards in and around the home."
An average of about 240 children under 5 years old drown in swimming pools nationwide each year. But CPSC also has reports of about 110 children under 5 who have drowned in other products in and around the home each year. These products include bathtubs, hot tubs, spas, buckets and other containers.
More children drown in bathtubs than in any other product in the home. In 2001 (the most recent year of complete data), CPSC reported 72 children under 5 who drowned in bathtubs, and more than half were under 1 year old. Most cases involved a child left unattended in the tub.
In several of the bathtub incidents, children were left to play in a tub with the water running and the drain left open. The parent or caregiver assumed the open drain would prevent the bathtub from filling up and left the bathroom. When they returned, the drain was closed or clogged, the water had filled the bathtub, and the child was submerged.
CPSC is aware of 13 children under 5 who died in spas or hot tubs in 2001, 11 deaths involving 5-gallon buckets, seven involving other- sized buckets, five deaths in wading pools, four deaths in landscape ponds and one death in a plastic basin.
"Man-made landscape ponds seem to be getting more popular with gardeners now, and since they frequently include fish and fountains, they are sure to attract toddlers," Stratton said. "They often are installed with no barriers to prevent access."
Home Drowning Prevention Tips include:
- Young children can drown in even small amounts of water. Never leave young children alone near any water.
- Always keep a baby within arm's reach in a bathtub. Never leave to answer the phone, answer the door, get a towel or for any other reason. If you must leave, take the baby with you.
- Don't leave a baby or toddler in a bathtub under the care of another young child.
- A baby bath seat is not a substitute for supervision. A bath seat is a bathing aid, not a safety device. Babies can slip or climb out of bath seats and drown.
- Keep toilet lids down to prevent access to water. Consider using toilet clips to stop young children from opening the lids.
- Consider keeping children out of bathrooms by using bathroom door latches that are out of reach of young children.
- Never leave a bucket containing even a small amount of liquid unattended. After using a bucket, always empty and store it where young children cannot reach it. Buckets left outside can collect rainwater and are a hazard. Toddlers can fall headfirst into 4- and 5-gallon buckets and drown.
- To prevent children from gaining access to spas or hot tubs when not in use, always secure safety covers and barriers. Non-rigid covers (such as solar covers) can appear to be in place even after children slip underneath them into the water.
- Learn CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). It can be a lifesaver when seconds count.