Yet Another Toddler in a Washing Machine? Water Safety Tips for Babies and Tots

The video of the toddler rolling around in the Laundromat washing machine is a little bit too much to handle. And a little too much of plain old stupidity for me.

But safety tips….that I can take.

Everyone has heard that a child can drown in a few inches of water. Having worked during my college days for the Consumer Product Safety Commission as a data entry person, nothing surprises me. Children can die or be severely harmed by all kinds of household objects, not just toys.

If you’ve heard it once, you’ll hear it again. NEVER leave your child unattended in or around water. I just get sick to my stomach when I hear about young children dying in hot tubs or washing machines…You cannot be too careful.

Warnings about Child Safety by Angela Haupt at Yahoo:

Between 2005 and 2009, two children under the age of five died as a result of laundry room accidents, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Washing machine-related injuries are more common than deaths, says Scott Wolfson, director of public affairs for the CPSCburns from hot water in the machine, or injuries to their limbs if they come into contact with a rapidly spinning basin. “Kids are curious. We have to be very vigilant about our children, and really live in the moment and be present when we’re supervising them,” says Kate Carr, president of Safe Kids Worldwide, which aims to prevent unintentional childhood injuries.

Five other things to be cautious of:

Standing water. Drowning concerns extend beyond swimming pools. Any type of standing water-even if it’s just an inch deep-can harm a child. “The bathroom is the riskiest room in the house,” says Garry Gardner, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ council on injury, violence, and poison prevention. “Children lean over and look into the toilet or bathtub, they trip, and they fall in.” Keep young children out of the bathroom unless they’re being closely watched, and teach others in the home to keep the bathroom door closed at all times. Ice chests with melted ice, water buckets or pails, and whirlpools also pose risks. Empty all buckets, pails, and bathtubs completely after use; never leave them filled or unattended. And adjust the water heater thermostat so that the hottest temperature at the faucet is 120 degrees Fahrenheit, to help avoid burns.

Televisions. Between 2000 and 2010, nearly 170 children ages 8 and younger were fatally crushed by falling TVs, the CPSC reports One child, for example, bumped a 100-pound TV that was placed on an aquarium stand. When it fell, it crushed his skull. The best preventative step? Using adequately-sized, sturdy stands and shelves to support TVs. They should not be placed on stands that have drawers, since kids could use them as steps to climb to the top, and parents shouldn’t put remote controls, toys, or anything else atop TV sets. “We’re seeing a mini-epidemic,” Gardner says. “If a TV is heavy and sitting on a small stand, and a kid climbs up on it, he’s going to pull it right over.”

Button batteries. These high-powered lithium batteries, no bigger than a nickle, are used to power small electronic devices, including remote controls, watches, musical greeting cards, and ornaments. When accidently swallowed, they can get stuck in the esophagus and generate an electrical current that causes severe chemical burns and tissue damage. “The window of opportunity for getting it out before it causes irreparable damage is two hours,” Gardner says. If you’re even remotely concerned that your child has ingested one of the batteries, head to the emergency room immediately.

Treadmills. In 2009, Mike Tyson’s 4-year-old daughter was strangled to death by a dangling treadmill cord. And it wasn’t an isolated accident. More than 25,000 children under age 14 are injured each year by exercise equipment, including stationary bikes, treadmills, and stair climbers. Treadmill injuries are typically caused by the moving parts (like the running deck and belt), hard edges, and programmed speeds. Some precautionary steps: When a treadmill isn’t in use, unplug it and lock it up, or even surround it with a safety gate. Remove the safety clip that’s tied around the handrail. Keep kids away from the machine whenever it’s in use.

Coffee. Be wary of where you set down that morning cup of joe. A child could accidently tip it over. Burns, especially scalds from hot water and other liquids, are some of the most common childhood accidents. “Kids are not small adults. Because they’re growing, their skin is more fragile,” Carr says. “And their body surface is much smaller, so a little bit of coffee goes a long way.”

More tips from the HealthEast Maternity Care Newsletter:

Did you know?
Drowning is the second most common cause of injury-related fatalities among children between the ages of 1 and 4. The best prevention of drowning is never to let children be alone near water of any depth.

Swimming: safety first
A child can drown in a minute. In fact, most young children who drowned in swimming pools were in the care of one or both parents at the time and had been out of sight for less than five minutes. While teaching your toddler water safety and, ultimately, to swim will eventually protect him, careful and constant supervision is essential to prevent drowning now.

Teaching your toddler water safety can be fun for both of you. Enroll in a YMCA swimming class for parents and toddlers to learn water safety and have fun. No matter how much your toddler loves the water, however, he must always be within an arm’s reach until he is over 5 years of age and a strong swimmer-even if you are just in a backyard wading pool. If your child is fearful of the water, don’t force him to swim, as doing so may increase his fear.

Water play
There are endless ways to enjoy the water with your toddler. Sit in a kiddy pool with her in just an inch or two of water and pass a ball back and forth between you. Fill or empty cups as you would in the sink or tub. In the shallow end of an adult pool, hold her in your arms and bounce together in the water while singing Ring Around the Rosie. If your child has a fear of water but is comfortable in your arms, you can offer her the choice of falling up (out of the water) or down (submerged no higher than her chest).”

I know you’re thinking that this is all old news. But if it helps save one toddlers life, it’s worth it.

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