You can keep bath time fun and safe for your child by following our golden rules for bathroom safety. This guide also explains how to prevent drowning and scalding in the bath.
Bathroom safety basics
Drowning and scalds are the two main risks with bath time. You can avoid these risks by following the four golden rules for safe bath times:
How to prevent drowning in the bath
Drowning is the major cause of death for children under five years.
Very young children are prone to drowning because they’re top-heavy. They can slip into or under the water very suddenly, and they can drown in only a few centimetres of water. Drowning can be very quick – it can take only a moment. Young children can also drown silently, without coughing or splashing, so you might not even realise they’re in danger.
Never leave your child alone near water, even for a minute. When you and your child are in the bathroom, make sure your child is within arm’s reach and within sight at all times.
Preventing burns and scalds in the bathroom
Young children have very sensitive skin, which means that baths that are too hot can scald them very quickly. The safe temperature for a child’s bath is between 37°C and 38°C (approximately 36°C for a newborn), whereas grown-ups tend to bathe in water between 41°C and 42°C.
The best way to prevent burns or scalds in the bathroom is to ensure that hot water is delivered to your basin, bath or shower at a maximum temperature of 50°C. This isn’t a bathing temperature, however – you still need to mix cold water with the hot water from the tap to get the right bathing temperature.
Here are more tips to help you prevent bathroom burns and scalds:
Important hot water facts
Over 90% of hot tap water scalds occur in the bathroom, when the temperature of water from the tap is set too high.
When water is at 60°C, it takes only one second to cause a full thickness scald. At 50°C, it takes five minutes. The difference between 60°C and 50°C can be the difference between pain, hospitalisation and scarring for life, or a minor injury.
The best way to prevent scalds in the bathroom is to reduce the temperature of the hot water tap at the basin, bath and shower to 50°C.
You can buy anti-scald devices for your house. For suggestions and advice, talk to a licensed plumber, who might recommend installing a tempering valve. This device reduces the hot water temperature in the bathroom but doesn’t change the temperature in the kitchen. The plumber might also suggest a thermostatic mixing valve, which can be set to deliver hot water at a safe temperature.
If a burn or scald happens: what to do
If you’re not sure how severe a burn is, contact a doctor, hospital or medical centre immediately.
Otherwise, take the following first aid steps:
More tips for safe baths
Sometimes bath time can be stressful because it happens at the end of the day when you’ve got lots of other things to do. When too many things are happening at once, it can increase the risk of injuries. If this sounds like your situation, you could consider changing your routine to make things easier.
Video: Baby Bathing
Get tips on how to bath your newborn here