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Smallest People + Smallest Room = Biggest Problems

Submitted by Mark Bello on January 13, 2012 – 3:06 pm

If you asked most people, they’d likely say that the kitchen is the most dangerous room in the home — especially for little ones. But what about the bathroom? It presents a host of dangers: drowning, burns, slip-and-fall accidents, poison and electrical shock.

A few simple steps could go a long way in preventing harm. Here are some suggestions.

Drowning
Situation: A 4-year-old girl drowns when her mother briefly left her unattended in the bathtub.

Solution
: Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon occurrence. Children can drown in only a few inches of water; never leave a young child alone in the bath — even for a minute. Bath seats and rings are meant to be bathing aids and will not prevent drowning if the infant is left unattended. Young children can also fall headfirst into the toilet and drown. Never leave water in the bathtub and consider installing
toilet seat locks to keep small children from opening the lid.

Burns
Situation: A 2-year-old boy climbs out of a bathroom sink with his right foot under running water. The child suffered burns to both feet. The apartment building in which the family lived provided scald guards for the water heaters, but the guard had been removed from their unit. The maximum water temperature obtained from their faucets was determined to be greater than 150°F. It was later determined that the child climbed on the nearby toilet seat and turned on the water.

Solution
: Children are hospitalized daily from burns by hot water. If severe enough, a child can be scarred or disfigured for life. To prevent such burns, set your water heater temperature to 120°F. For
added safety, install a faucet with safety stops that restrict how far the handle can be turned toward hot. Always check the bath water temperature before you put your child in the bath.

Falls
Situation: A 6-year-old boy was trying to get out of the tub when he slipped and fell. His head hit the ceramic tile soap dish that hung off the tile wall, breaking it on impact. It caused a 2-inch gash on his forehead; it was cut to the bone.

Solution: Most bathroom injuries come from slips and falls. To avoid injuries:

+ Keep the floor dry and clean. Use a slip resistant and quick-dry rug or carpet on the bathroom floor.

+ Apply non-skid pads on the bottom of the tub or use a rubber bath mat.

+ Slide a cushioned spout guard over the faucet.

+ Install bathtub safety rails or handles to safely get in and out of tub.

+ Use a sturdy stepstool with non-slip rubber feet to help little ones reach the sink.

+ Only use bath seats and rings if a child can sit upright unassisted, but never leave a young child alone in a tub.

Poisoning
Situation: The mother of a 1-year-old — who was blow-drying her hair — notices him holding a bottle of spilled pills. Did he swallow any? She rushes him to the emergency room where — after having his stomach pumped — it is determined that he did not swallow any pills.

Solution: To safeguard against poisoning, keep all chemicals out or reach of children and locked in a medicine cabinet or stored in a cabinet with child-resistant safety cap. Some items may seem harmless, but do contain dangerous chemicals if ingested. It is important to remember that child-resistant doesn’t always mean child proof. Even child-proof lids can be opened by a determined child, so it’s best to eliminate their presence all together. Never discard these items in a trash can that is accessible by a
young child.

Electrical Shock
Situation: A 6-year-old girl is found with a hair dryer in a water-filled bath tub. The child was in the tub with her 2-year-old sister when their mother briefly left the room. When the mother discovered the toddler out of the bathroom, she went to check on her other daughter and found her unresponsive in the bathtub with the hair dryer. It is unknown how the hair dryer got in the tub.

Solution: Fatal accidents like this can be avoided by keeping all electrical devices — hairdryers, curling irons and razors away from a full bathtub or running water and, in general, out of the reach of children. Hot curling irons are also responsible for many childhood burns and cords left lying around can cause accidental strangulation. Throwing water on electrical outlets or appliances can also be dangerous. Electrical items should be safely stored in a locked cabinet or out of a child’s reach. Electrical outlets should be covered to prevent children from putting any objects into the outlet. Ground-fault circuit interrupters can provide additional safety in the event that an appliance falls in water.

The best precaution is to never plug in an electrical appliance near water. Most importantly, children — especially those under 8 — should not be allowed to use electrical appliances without adult supervision.
It is difficult to watch small children for every minute of every day; but, there are too many dangers in the bathroom to take chances.

Thus, the simplest way to avoid serious injuries or death is to make bathrooms inaccessible to small children unless those children are accompanied by an adult.

Install a door lock or latch that is high enough so your child cannot reach it; make sure you use the lock or latch and keep the door closed at all times.

— Mark Bello is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corp. in Southfield, Michigan.