Household Safety: Preventing Drowning by Dr. Chetan Ginigeri

5 min read

Written by Dr. Chetan Ginigeri

Dr. Chetan Ginigeri

Household Safety_ Preventing Drowning

Kids love their splash time. They try to catch the running water, love to play with bath toys; in short, water play is one of the ways the baby tends to calm down and enjoy. Water is the best way to refresh for all, but one needs to be safe also, most importantly, when it is with babies or kids. It has been noticed that drowning is one of the most common reasons for death among toddlers in recent years. Another important fact is that drowning does not take too much time. It can happen in less than 25 seconds. Hence it is important to know the measures to take to prevent drowning.

Hence, it is not advisable to leave the baby alone or to make assumptions that the infant is safe as there is less water. Remember, drowning can take place promptly, even in less than 1 inch of water. Therefore, a little water in bathtubs, and even in buckets and sinks can pose a danger for your little one. And hazards can happen anytime, so we should not take any chances. The babies, in general, are explorative and experimenting by nature, so it is better to be safe than sorry.

In This Article

Beware of the Hazards at Home

The process of drowning can happen too fast and even a lesser than 2.5 cm of water level can potentially pave the way for drowning. In our homes, we have different means to use and store water and the baby keeps noticing it while moving. The mind of your little one is always up to some mischief, though it is done purely out of curiosity. So, one needs to keep all the vessels and containers safely closed, and out of the reach of the little ones to prevent drowning.

Let us see what best can be done to avoid potential health hazards arising from these:

A. Bathtubs, Buckets, Toilet Bowls, and Baby Bath Seats

Bathroom dangers for toddler

These are some of the places in a home where the baby has a good time of his day. A bathtub is one of the areas the baby enjoys the most as it is very spacious, and they can even play with their bath toys there. The bathtub can be filled with water, and the baby can have a good time splashing and playing with foam.

However, it is crucial to check a few points to avoid any potential threats to the baby, and they are as below.

  • Never leave the baby unattended.
  • Be careful as the baby can slip in the bathtub as the surface is wet.
  • Always be careful about the temperature of the water as too hot water is bad for their sensitive skin. So it is ideal that the adult tests the temperature of the water on their skin before allowing the baby to access it.
  • It is imperative that the door of the washroom is installed with a safety latch.
  • Keep the lids of the toilets always closed as the baby can accidentally get injured.
  • It is best to empty all the containers, buckets, and tubs once they have been used.
  • Never overfill any water container, bucket, or tub as the babies can drown if their face gets submerged in water.
  • In case one has a hot tub, the water should be drained after use or kept covered as the temperature of the water is too high and can be harmful to the baby.
  • Keep away the electrical appliances at a distance from the water.
  • In case of using a pool, fence it properly.
  • Always install alarms if necessary. They, however, cannot substitute supervision. But it can alert in case you are away.

B. Be Prepared

If you have a little one in your home, it is essential to make certain preparations in case of an emergency. Follow these steps:

  • Learn how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR-A first aid procedure taken to restore spontaneous blood circulation and breathing) and the Heimlich maneuver (first-aid procedure for dislodging an obstruction from the windpipe).
  • Keep the doctor’s phone number, and parent’s work and mobile number, ambulance number, neighbor’s number, near your home phone. This will help not only you, but the caretaker in the absence of you to act promptly in case of an emergency situation.
  •  Have an easily accessible first aid kit.

[Read : Top 15 Bathroom Safety Tips for Toddlers]

Steps to Take in Case of Drowning of Babies

Steps To Take In Case Of Drowning

We understand entirely childproofing your home can be a difficult task. If you can’t childproof the entire house, you can at least install doorknob covers in any room that hasn’t been properly childproofed so that a baby shouldn’t enter it. That is very important to prevent drowning.

Always supervise the kids when they are near water.  Especially the newborns, kids of 3-5 years of age, etc. Never leave them alone with other children. Another important aspect to note is that the adult should be an arms distance away from the baby and not bust on talking on phones, catching with friends, or leaving the baby near water to finish the unfinished chores.

Still, if the baby drowns take the following first aid measures:

  • Remove the baby from the water and check if they are able to breathe. If they are struggling to breathe, you may need to administer CPR quickly.
  • Carefully watch the heartbeat and breathing of the baby.
  • Always inform the emergency.
  • Do not try to make the baby vomit by force.

Remember, the first 48 hours after a drowning incident is very crucial. Most of the complications due to water exposure, like pneumonia, infections, etc., appear during this time. Therefore, in case of a drowning incident, even though he or she seems okay after the first aid to you, take your little one to the hospital as soon as possible.

Thus, the ideal situation for saving kids from drowning is through proper training and guidance. It is important for the kid to know the safety measures to take. Tell them about trading and floating in the water, and if possible, one can enroll in swimming classes as well. Never allow the kids, whether a baby, toddler, or school-age child, to go alone near any area which has water unless a guardian is there.

[Read : Child Drowning, Secondary Drowning and Dry Drowning]


1. At What Age Can a Child be Left Alone in the Bath?

It seems as if there is a wide range of opinions about the age at which a child can safely bathe alone, so parents should exercise caution. Some experts suggest age 4, while others suggest a mature 6-year-old is the appropriate age to leave kids alone in the bath. To be on the safe side, children under the age of six must not leave alone in the bath to prevent drowning.

2. Can You Dunk a Baby Under Water?

Submerging a baby underwater is not a good idea. Rather than waiting until your baby is ready to submerge underwater, directly submerging them can result in water entering the mouth and directly entering the stomach and lungs.

3. What is Dry Drowning?

Dry drowning indicates that no water is present in the lungs. During dry drowning, the larynx (voice box) constricts and seizes, preventing airflow to the lungs.  Inhaling water suddenly is the root cause of it. However, despite not reaching the lungs, water may cause the throat to swell, obstructing airflow if it comes into quick or forceful contact with it. This ends up in dry drowning.

4. What Should I Do If My Baby Breathes in Water?

For two to three days after inhaling water, closely monitor the baby for labored breathing, worsening cough, or fever. When this happens, make sure they see a doctor right away.  The baby may develop pneumonia if some fluid gets into their lungs.

Read Also: 8 Life-Saving Tips To Ensure Water Safety For Your Baby

Dr. Chetan Ginigeri,MBBS(JIPMER), MD (PGIMER), Fellowship PICU (Kings College London)
Head of Dept – Paediatric & Neonatal services, Aster CMI Hospital
17 years of experience

Dr Chetan Ginigeri is an experienced Pediatric Intensivist with national and international training. With 15 years of experience, he is one among very few Intensivists in India trained to take care of children who need/had organ transplants. He has been responsible for coordinating the Pediatric Organ Transplant program.Read more.

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