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Bath seats for Babies and Toddlers-Urgent alert

Friday 25th September 2015

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.

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. Even if a child is quickly rescued from drowning, they may already have stopped breathing. A significant proportion of children who have near misses may suffer brain damage that can require lifelong financial and healthcare support.”

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."

“While a baby may look secure in a bath seat, they can easily wriggle or slip out. Or the seat itself can tip over and immerse the baby in water. Babies can 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.“

“Bath seats are useful pieces of kit for busy parents but they are not safety devices. In the UK around 13 children (under 5 years) die from drowning each year, and 1 in 4 of these deaths occur in a bath. For each drowning fatality, there are 8 non-fatal drowning events that are serious enough to require hospitalisation. ”

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."

“This simple reminder to parents can help to avoid what are life-changing events. Never leave a baby or young child unattended in the bath, even just for a moment.”

The information RoSPA now has indicates that the warning moulded into the seat frame as required by the standard is being ignored and that the use of such seats may encourage a carer to leave a baby unattended even for a short while, to answer the phone perhaps, with disastrous consequences.

78 children under 5 have died in baths in UK homes in the 14 year period;

5 children die in drowning accidents in baths in UK homes every year;

53 (2/3rds) were under 2 years old;

At least 6 fatal drownings involved the use of bath seats - all one year and under;

Even momentary lack of supervision can lead to disastrous consequences;

Bath seats may encourage the carer to leave a baby unattended;

RoSPA's advice is "Never leave your baby unattended in the bath”.

 

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