CPSC Reminds Parents of Drowning Dangers Inside the Home, Nearly 100 reported deaths of children in buckets

September 30, 2008
Release Number: 08-417

Water anywhere can be a potential drowning hazard. While pools are an obvious risk, parents should not let their guard down around other hazards such as bathtubs and buckets. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is warning parents that children need to be supervised around these common but sometimes hidden drowning dangers.

After pools, more children drown in bathtubs than in any other product in and around the home. From 2002 through 2004, CPSC has reports (pdf) of 221 children younger than 5 who drowned in bathing-related incidents. Most of these children were younger than 2 years old. Often these incidents involve caregivers leaving the room momentarily to answer the phone/door or to retrieve an item like a towel. In other incidents, an older sibling was left to watch a younger sibling.

Reported drowning incidents received by CPSC confirms another drowning hazard – buckets. CPSC has reports of 94 bucket-related drowning or submersion fatalities from 1999 through 2006. All but one of these deaths were to children less than 2 years old.

“A child can drown very quickly in only inches of water,” said CPSC Acting Chairman Nancy Nord. “Bathtubs, buckets, and other containers in and around the home pose drowning hazards all year long.”

CPSC recommends parents and caregivers follow these safety tips when children are around bathtubs, buckets, spas, or decorative ponds or fountains:

- Never leave young children alone even for a moment near any water. 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. Never leave to answer the phone, answer the door, get a towel or for any other reason.

- Don't leave a baby or toddler in a bathtub under the care of another young child.

- Never leave a bucket containing even a small amount of liquid unattended. Toddlers 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.

- Prevent children from gaining access to spas or hot tubs when not in use; always secure with safety covers and barriers.

- Learn CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). It can be a lifesaver when there are only seconds to act.