Squeaky clean, fresh smelling kids are great. Yet bathtime, while a fun and essential part of life for children, can hold dangers we might not have considered.
Scalds and burns
Every day in the UK, a child under five is admitted to hospital with scalds caused by bath water, with thousands more suffering less severe scalding. Babies and under fives are at highest risk from scald injuries, as a baby’s skin is 15 times thinner than an adults. The Prompt Treatment Of Burns or Scalds can help to limit the damage to the skin.
So what can we do to prevent bath water scalds? Safety Organisations recommend that water coming out of taps should be no more than 46°C to prevent scalding to young children, so one option is to set your boiler thermostat to this temperature. This may be impractical for many householders (and indeed experts suggest water should be stored at more than 60°C to prevent Legionnaire Bacteria developing) so if your water temperature is hotter, it is important to keep all children away from the bath until to you are satisfied that the water is cool enough. Use a water thermometer to check the temperature of the water, and these are widely available. The ideal temperature for babies’ baths is between 36-38°C. Always double check with your elbow and never let children touch the taps themselves.
Many accidents occur when children fall into baths which have already been filled (often for an adult) and it takes just 5 seconds for a toddler to suffer 3rd Degree burns from water at 60°C.
Thermostatic mixing valves allow you to store water at a high temperature but deliver it from the tap at a safe temperature, and all new homes should have these fitted as standard.
Babies topple and roll easily, and young children do not understand the risks associated with even small amounts of water. So it is vital that you never leave a baby or child under the age of 6 years old unattended in the bath, even to get a towel or a nappy – a baby can drown in just 5cm (or 2in) of water.
According the Child Accident Prevention Trust, 18 children under the age of 15 drowned in the UK in 2008 – and 12 of these were 4 years old or younger. So teach your children the importance of Water Safety.
Have everything ready before your children get into the bath, so they need not be left alone: soap, facecloths, towels and toys are all you should really need, so keep them nearby. Bath water should never be more than 6-8cm for a babies and no higher than waist high for older children (sitting).
Bath Safety Equipment
Baths are slippery places, so fit yours with a non-slip mat. Baby seats and supports are also available to help you wash your baby safely, but this does not mean that your baby can be left alone in the bath. Encourage young children not to stand or jump in the bath, a bump to the head could knock them unconscious.
Children and babies are slippery themselves when they are wet, so handle carefully when lifting them out of the bath.