Bathroom Safety For Kids

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The bathroom is filled with potential hazards to children. Burns, shocks, poisoning, falls and drowning can happen in what seems like the blink of an eye. If you have young children living in your home or visiting on a regular basis, take steps to childproof your bathroom. But remember the most important safety measure of all – never leave a young child unattended in the bathroom.

Reduce The Risk Of Burns

The number one source of burn danger in the bathroom is hot water. Children’s skin is more delicate than adult’s, and can sustain a serious scald very quickly. Your water heater should be set to no more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit to keep water temperatures at a safe level. You can also have an anti-scald valve installed on your tub, sink or shower. These valves balance sudden fluctuations in water temperature, preventing a sudden burst of hot water if someone flushes a toilet somewhere else in the house.

  • When filling the tub for bathing a baby or toddler, keep the water slightly cooler than what you would choose for yourself. A temperature between 90 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit is comfortable for most young children. You can easily check the temperature with a bathwater thermometer, sold at most stores with child safety supplies.
  • Turn on the cold water first when filling the tub, then mix in warmer water as the tub fills. Swish your hand through the water to achieve an even temperature. This will prevent a layer of hot water that might scald your child as they enter the bath.
  • Teach your young children not to touch the taps on the bath or sink. A curious child might unknowingly turn the hot water on all the way.

Prevent Electrical Shocks In The Bathroom

The typical bathroom has a multitude of electrical appliances, outlets and cords. These all present dangers to a curious, young child, but when you combine electrical devices with the large sources of water in a bathroom, you can have a tragedy on your hands.

  • Cap electrical outlets with baby proof safety caps. You can find a wide selection of these at home improvement centers. The most convenient have sliding faces that allow you to plug in devices without having to remove the entire safety cap.
  • All outlets in the bathroom should have ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCI). These safety devices sense changes in electrical flow, such as with a shock or electrocution, and immediately shut off the electricity to that outlet.
  • Unplug all electrical devices when not in use. Not only can a child be shocked playing with tempting appliances like the electric razor or electric toothbrush; they can receive a severe burn if they pick up a still-hot curling iron or blow dryer. Store any grooming appliance that generates heat in a safe spot when not in use.
  • Never put a plugged-in electrical appliance near the bathtub while your child is bathing. A quick grab on the cord could spell disaster.

Keep Poisons Out Of Reach

Children, especially toddlers and babies, are prone to putting things they shouldn’t in their mouths. And most bathrooms are filled with products that can be harmful, or even deadly, if eaten by an inquisitive child.

  • Don’t store cleaning products, especially drain cleaner, under your bathroom sink. Any harsh, caustic or potentially harmful cleaning product should be safely secured in a locked cabinet in your service porch, garage or other off-limits area.
  • Lock your medicine chest. Young children can easily confuse a medication with a small candy or mint, and most kids can easily climb up to access the medicine chest. Even vitamins, especially those containing high levels of iron, can be dangerous when consumed by a toddler.
  • Put shampoo, conditioner and hair styling products up high where kids can’t reach. Though it’s hard to imagine a good taste, toddlers have been known to become ill after sampling shampoo or other hair care products.
  • Keep perfume, deodorant, skincare products and toothpaste in your locked medicine chest, a secured drawer or under a secured sink. Any of these could sicken a child who decides to take a drink, or sprays grooming items into their eyes.

Prevent Slips & Falls In The Bathroom

Slippery, tile floors, water and young bodies with poor balance equal slip and fall danger. The small confines of most bathrooms combined with the hard, ceramic surfaces make a fall even more dangerous, as the risk of a child striking his head on the way down is high.

  • Line your bathtub with a nonslip, rubber mat. Choose one with small holes or perforations to allow water to drain, and wash the mat periodically to prevent the buildup of mildew.
  • Teach your child to never jump or walk around inside the tub.
  • If you have a rug in your bathroom, make sure it has a nonslip, rubberized backing.
  • Provide a thick, foam bathmat right next to the tub for your child to stand on when entering or exiting the tub. A thin, terrycloth bathmat can easily slide out of place, leading to a fall.
  • Wipe up spilled water right away.
  • Purchase a cover for your bathtub spigot. These padded covers will protect your child should she fall forward against the spigot, but allow water to flow through.

Don’t Underestimate Drowning Risks

Toddlers can drown in as little as a few inches of water. In a room filled with water sources, the danger of drowning is a risk that cannot be overemphasized.

  • Never leave your child unattended in the bath, not even for a few seconds. There is no phone call, chore or household need worth risking your child’s life. Don’t assume that a baby bath seat or ring will keep your child safe if left alone. These devices are only for positioning a child in the bath, not for providing safety.
  • Don’t fill the bathtub with more than a few inches of water. Babies and toddlers don’t need more than this for bathing.
  • Empty the tub completely after bath time is over.
  • Keep toilet lids down, and consider a childproof latch to keep a curious child out of the commode. Toilets are very entertaining to young children, but contain enough water to be a drowning hazard.

Between potty training, bath time, teeth brushing and hand washing, it can seem you are never out of the bathroom with young children. Make sure your bathroom is safe.

Last Updated: August 23, 2012
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About Michelle Ullman Michelle Ullman has lived and gardened in Southern California since childhood. A freelance writer, she covers topics ranging from gardening to home improvement to health issues. She also has experience as a catalog copywriter and poet. Michelle has trained and worked as a respiratory therapist and surgical technologist, but prefers to spend her time gardening, and walking with her dog. Michelle holds a Bachelor's Degree from Redlands University in Business Management. 

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