Safety Tips: Accidental Death Due To Drowning at Home
April 8, 2011
The bad bucket:
However easy it may seem to manage the risk (always empty the bucket) there are other things to consider to make things safer around your home. Wheeled mop-buckets and those tall five-gallon paint buckets are heavy enough – when just half-full – to outweigh a small child. A small two-gallon bucket is far more likely to tip-over and spill out than the heavier (bad) buckets you may have.
It is impossible for a toddler to drown in a bucket that isn’t there. So if you have big (bad) buckets in your house then I say get them out of there until everyone is in kindergarten. Regardless of what kind of bucket you use, you have to keep your eyes on one of two things: the baby, or the bucket. (I pick the baby, but that’s me)
Hold that baby:
When anyone in the house is taking a bath – someone holds (or at least constantly watches) the baby. A big sign over the tub that reads: ”Drain me before you get out or you’re grounded!” isn’t a bad idea either. Tubs account for more in-home infant drownings that buckets do. Toilets in the bathroom account for far less (just a couple a year in the U.S.) but it’s not impossible. Small children are curious about water wherever they find it.
Garden ponds and other back yard water features seem obvious, but many parents are deceived by how shallow they are and assume they aren’t a threat. It’s not true. It takes months to teach an infant to turn-over when face down in the water; it isn’t an instinctual response for babies and all it takes is water they can get there face into to drown. You don’t have to fill the pond in with dirt until they are in high-school, but a safety net isn’t a bad idea.
Worse than water:
Parents should stay vigilant when other liquids are exposed around the house. Paint cans and buckets, vehicle fluids, cleaning solvents, etc. all pose more immediate risks. Even if held in smaller buckets that topple over, small children can ingest or inhale enough of the paint or chemical to be extremely harmful.
These kinds of accidents are rare, but with awareness and a few precautions they can be made an impossibility in your home. It doesn’t have to be summer, you don’t have to have a pool or hot tub, it doesn’t even have to involve water; small children can and will drown in unlikely places like buckets, and sinks, and tubs and anything else that provides a space for their young heads to get into. Keep that in mind and be aware of the open liquids in your home, and having to “imagine” what could happen will be as scary as it gets.