Bathtub safety tips for parents and caregivers

June 28, 2021

Drowning is a leading cause of injury-related death in children. Every year in the U.S., 945 children under age 20 dies from drowning. Nearly half of them are infants and toddlers under age 5. 

Many reported bathtub drowning fatalities involved a lapse in supervision, such as when the parent or caregiver left the bathroom while the child was in the bathtub to answer the phone or door, or to retrieve a towel. In other reported incidents, the child was left with another child.

Preventing bathtub drownings

Children can drown in a matter of minutes, and drowning can happen quickly and silently. Of the child drownings that occur within the home, approximately 2/3 of them occur in the bath and sometimes in as little as two inches of water.

Check out these safety tips to help prevent children from drowning in and around the home:

  • Be prepared for bath time - Make sure you have everything you need for bath time before placing your child in the tub. Gather towels, clothes, soap and toys before bath time begins so that you don’t have to leave your child alone.
  • Always check the water temperature before placing a child in the bathtub - Before placing your child in the bath, check the water temperature with the inside of your wrist. The water should feel warm to the touch, not hot.
  • Never leave children alone near a bathtub with water in it - Always keep a young child within arm’s reach in a bathtub. If you must leave, take the child with you.
  • It can only take a couple of seconds for a child to drown - Every year in the U.S., 945 children under age 20 die from drowning. Nearly half of them are infants and toddlers under age 5.
  • Always empty the bathtub immediately after use - Drowning accidents can happen when a child is left alone inside or near a tub. 
  • Learn CPR -- cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It can be a lifesaver - The American Red Cross has CPR training available at over 550 locations across the United States and the option to choose from online or in-person courses, or take a blended Simulation Learning class that combines online learning with hands-on, in-person instruction.
  • Close lids and doors - Keep toilet lids and doors to bathrooms and laundry rooms closed when not in use.

Parent's and caregivers' awareness of drowning risks associated with hazards in the home is one of the most impactful ways to prevent bathtub fatality incidents. Be sure to share this resource with all of the parents and caregivers who you know.


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Anyone witnessing a child in a life-threatening situation should call 911 immediately.