Water safety is serious business – like, life and death. We just don’t realize it because standing water is a part of our everyday life – backyard pools, kiddie pools, toilets or bathtubs. Children around those things unattended is a recipe for an avoidable injury. Drowning continues to be one of the leading causes of unintentional death among children ages 1-4 and can happen in only a few centimetres of water – enough to cover the nose and mouth – and a child in a large body of water without a life jacket on can disappear in seconds. This post is making me feel anxious just writing it!
Luckily, there are things you can do to keep your children safe!
The bathtub, for the most part, seems innocent enough as it’s part of our daily life, but it’s important to never leave your child alone in the bathtub even for a minute.
Another thing to consider is the temperature of the bath water. Always test it with your elbow before putting the baby in. I went to my in-laws house when my son, Harrison, was 4 months old. We flew there, a four hour flight, and Harrison was SO DONE WITH TODAY so he was screaming when we arrived at their home. He wasn’t sleeping well at that stage so I was trying to keep his bedtime routine intact, which included a bath. Still screaming. I was so distracted with the screaming and the grandparents that I didn’t test the temperature of the water before I put him in. It could have been worse though, lucky for us. Once I put him in, I felt that it was FREEZING. I was so frazzled, fresh off a plane, being screamed at, sleep deprived etc, and I felt like I had failed because I didn’t test the water first. Just to finish the story here, I aborted mission bath, went straight to pajamas and nursing and he was out like a light. For at least an hour. The point of the story is that if that water had been scalding hot, it would have done more damage than just me feeling dumb about it.
Make sure your shampoo, body wash, face cloth, toys and towel are all within reach before the baby goes into the tub. You don’t want to be stranded without a towel and a baby sitting in the bath. I always have one for my son, but this is a situation I find myself in far too often after my own showers.
When your baby (ies) are super little, a bath support or smaller bathtub will make bathtime much more manageable. Holding a slippery baby is tricky sometimes, especially if you introduce soap, body wash, lotion, olive oil, whatever your bath product of choice is.
If you have a permanent backyard pool, consider putting up a kind of enclosure with a self-closing gate until your kids are much older. Always make sure kids are supervised around the pools, and make life jackets mandatory for them if you think you might be distracted.
Same story goes for lakes, rivers, and boating situations. ALWAYS have your child in a life jacket around these bodies of water. As I said above, a young child can disappear from sight in seconds without a life jacket on. There are good quality life jackets for babies as small as 9lb that will turn them onto their back in the water.
A couple of recommendations in general for water safety is to ensure you and your partner are CPR Certified. My husband and I are doing this in the next couple of months and I encourage you to find a CPR class in your area. With water safety, particularly outdoors, means the potential exists for other injuries as well (running on the deck, tripping on cement etc). Please educate yourself on how to handle emergency situations.
On a similar note, swimming “lessons” exist for babies as young as 6 months old, and are often offered for an affordable price from your local municipality or the YMCA and similar organizations. I quote that above because at 6 mos it’s basically playing with a watering can in the water, but that’s ok. Even if you don’t swim much, please make sure your child knows how. You won’t be always be around them (for example if they’re at a birthday party), and one day they could end up in a situation where swimming lessons save their life.