Health

Baby bath-seat drowning risk warning

baby in bath Image copyright IAN HOOTON/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Parents are being warned of the danger of young children drowning in baths, following a small number of deaths and near misses, some linked to bath seats.

One in three accidental drowning deaths in children aged two and below involves bath seats, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents says.

If unsupervised, young children can tip over in a bath seat and become trapped.

Babies and young children should never be left unattended in a bath, public health officials advise.

Each year in the UK, about 13 children younger than five die from drowning.

One in four of these deaths occurs in a bath.

For each drowning fatality, there are eight non-fatal drowning events serious enough to require admission to hospital.

Dr Yvonne Doyle, from Public Health England, said: "If unsupervised, young children can tip over in a bath seat and become trapped or climb out of it, with potentially fatal consequences.

"These seats are used by parents when bathing babies and young children, but they can often be mistaken as safety measures, instead of bathing aids requiring constant adult supervision.

"Babies and young children should never be left unattended in a bath, not even for a minute."

Katrina Phillips, of the Child Accident Prevention Trust, said babies could drown in just a few centimetres of water, very quickly and with no noise or struggle.

"They can't recognise danger, and don't have the strength to try to reach the surface. This means you need to stay with your baby all the time near water."

David Walker, of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, said: "Bath seats are a really useful tool, as parents with babies and toddlers sometimes need all the help they can get, and that's the intention of these products. However, they can lead to a false sense of security.

"Distractions from the phone, other children or someone at the door are really quick events that have led to tragedies. What feels like a couple of seconds can be a minute or two, which is easily enough time for significant injuries or even death to occur."

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