By Nora Heston Tarte

January is National Bath Safety Month. 

Bath tub slips are dangerous for more than just the elderly. For children under four years old, bath time has hidden risks. That’s why the American Academy of Pediatrics says that a caregiver should always be present when a child four years old or younger is in the bathtub. Accidents can happen in an instant.
In 2011, 93 children under age 17 died from drowning in the tub. The most at-risk age group was zero-to-four, but even 15-17 year olds made the list with seven deaths that year.
Water in general poses risks for anybody. Younger kids are more susceptible because they are not strong swimmers. They also lack coordination, which puts them at higher risk for slips and falls.
There’s no need to panic. Looking at statistics, bathtubs are relatively safe. The death rate is very, very low, and only reasonable precautions need to be taken.

Tub Tricks to Increase Safety
1) Install a slip-resistant mat in every shower and tub in your house. Even an older child can drown if they slip, fall and are knocked unconscious in a tub full of water.
2) Opt for shatter-proof glass or a curtain over a glass door. A fall can cause the glass to break, which can lead to injury if proper equipment isn’t installed.
3) Mind the temperature. For infants, water between 90 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit is recommended. As kids get older they can properly test the water on their own but to limit the risk of burns it’s smart to adjust your water heater. Check temperatures for babies and toddlers using your wrist or a bath thermometer.

Make Bath Time Fun
Don’t let the risks scare you into not making the most of bath time. For many kids, baths are an enjoyable, relaxing part of the day. Enhance the experience with these tips!

1) Bring toys to the tub. Age-appropriate toys offer kids year-round water play.
2) Buy bubbles. Build bubble castles, make crazy hairdos, or add a beard to your preschooler. Bath bombs are fun, too!
3) Sing songs. Songs about water, bathtubs, and getting clean are great ways to bring whimsy to tub time. They can also help soothe a crying baby.
4) Wash with puppets. Hand puppets made for soap can take some of the fight out of your preschooler who doesn’t like the actual washing part of bath time.