Parents warned of the tragedy in waiting
CHILDREN are drowning in bathtubs in water as shallow as 5cm and after only 30 seconds without adult supervision, a new study has found.
The analysis of 78 coronial death records has prompted a warning to parents on how to avoid the tragedy which strikes about six Australian families each year.
The joint study, undertaken by the Royal Life Saving Society – Australia and James Cook University, is published in this month’s edition of the Journal of Pediatrics and Child Health.
Lead author Amy Peden, of Royal Life Saving and James Cook University, said there were valuable warnings for parents.
“This study has highlighted that younger children, even one month of age, are being left unsupervised in the bath,’’ she said.
“Active supervision by a competent adult should be in place for all children aged 0-4 years in the bath. Preventive advocacy efforts must counsel parents and carers that there is no safe depth of water to leave children unsupervised in while bathing.
“Most unintentional injuries in childhood have shown reductions in recent decades.
“Our experience has been that little has changed with bath drowning deaths, a tragic exception to this otherwise heartening trend.”
The study is the first national study and analysis of the “prevalence and risk factors” of under-18s drownings in bathtubs, spa baths and showers.
Ms Peden said despite widespread publicity surrounding the risk of bath aids, which can cause child drownings, they were still being bought on the second-hand market.
There were no deaths involving bath aids in the four years after they were made safer, including a mandatory safety standard requiring labelling on product and packaging by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in 2005. But there were seven deaths between 2010 and 2014.
“Of the victims in this study, 15% drowned while using bath aids,’’ Ms Peden said.