WASHINGTON, D.C. - The danger of drowning for young children is a real one, all year long. Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death among children ages 1 to 4. With Labor Day representing the traditional end of the pool season, parents and caregivers need to know that drowning risks inside the home are ever present.
In fact, bathtubs are the second leading location, after pools, where young children drown. Buckets, other containers, and even landscaping features, also can present a danger of drowning.
A new report from CPSC on submersions related to non-pool and non-spa products (pdf) indicates that from 2005 to 2009, there were 660 submersion incidents involving children younger than five years old. There were 431 fatalities, 212 injuries and 17 incidents with unknown injuries. The majority of the victims were younger than the age of two and most of the incidents involved bath or bath related products. CPSC's analysis of the fatalities found that 92 percent occurred in residential settings.
"Young children can drown in just a few inches of water," said Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. "I urge parents and caregivers to constantly supervise young children around bathtubs, bath seats and buckets. There are simple steps that every family can take to prevent drownings in the home."
Many of the reported incidents involved a lapse in supervision, such as a parent or caregiver leaving the bathroom while the child was in the bathtub to answer the phone or door, or to retrieve a towel. In other incidents, an older sibling was left to watch a younger sibling.
CPSC's drowning prevention safety tips include:
- Never leave young children alone near any water or tub or basin with fluid. Young children can drown in even small amounts of water.
- Always keep a young child within arm's reach in a bathtub. If you must leave, take the child with you.
- Don't leave a baby or young child in a bathtub under the care of another young child.
- Never leave a bucket containing even a small amount of liquid unattended. Toddlers are top heavy and they can fall headfirst into buckets and drown. After using a bucket, always empty and store it where young children cannot reach it. Don't leave buckets outside where they can collect rainwater.
- Consider placing locks on toilet seat covers in case a young child wanders into the bathroom.
- Learn CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). It can be a lifesaver when seconds count.
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