Childproofing the Bathroom
Each room in a house has safety issues that it shares with other rooms, as well as safety issues unique to its particular function and the way that the household utilizes it. The following is a brief explanation of some of the most important elements of childproofing a bathroom.
Water, Water, Everywhere
From the toilet to the sink to the tub, shower and/or bidet, the bathroom is a room with lots of water. This means a lot of care needs to be taken.
- To prevent accidental drowning, infants and young children should never be left alone in the tub and the tub should be emptied immediately after use. Toilet lids should stay down. Toilet cover locks are available for this purpose.
- To prevent hot water burns, antiscald devices, such as regulators for the faucet, should be installed. Combined with setting the water heater to a maximum of 120º F,(48.88° C) this will help reduce the chance of children being scalded by hot water.
- To prevent slipping and falling, a nonskid bathmat should be used and the bottom of the tub have some system in place to prevent falls, such as stick-on decals and/or handles or bars.
- To prevent floods, children should not be allowed to play with sink water unsupervised or to put objects into the toilet.
- To prevent ingestion of things which are potentially hazardous, such as shampoo, shaving cream or cleaning supplies, young children should not have access to the toilet or tub area unsupervised.
- To prevent electrocution, all outlets should have Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), devices that limit the risk of severe or fatal electric shock by interrupting the flow of electric current. Keep portable electrical appliances, such as hair dryers and electric toothbrushes, away from the sink and the bathtub. Appliances should be put away immediately after use. Unused outlets should have the usual outlet protectors or covers.
Bathroom Implements and Products
It is generally agreed that medications should not be kept in the so-called medicine cabinet to keep the bathroom childproof. Nevertheless, even if this caution is followed, many of the specialized implements used specifically in the bathroom—razors, nail clippers, cotton swabs, hair gel, contact cleaner, shampoo (not for babies), hairspray, mouthwash, etc.—as well as bathroom cleaning products can pose hazards for small children when left accessible, as they often are in bathrooms which are only used by older household members.
Choices include having a separate bathroom for the household’s young children in which none of these items are kept or keeping them all in drawers and cupboards protected by latches.
It is customary to provide young children with a safely designed stepstool or similar item to enable them to use the bathroom sink comfortably as they wash their hands and brush their teeth. The presence of this climbing device should be weighed with the resulting accessibility that it provides to other parts of the room, including countertops, cabinets, and windows. Safety measures should be taken wherever necessary.
Gating the door may be an important choice to protect a child from parts of the bathroom that cannot be made completely safe. Since bathrooms often have internal locks for privacy, it is also important to be sure that the child cannot lock him- or herself into the bathroom.
- Door knob covers and door locks—These devices help prevent children from entering areas of their home property that are dangerous, while allowing adults to easily open the door.
If you live in a climate in which indoor heating is used, there will be some means of bringing the heat into the living areas. Whether your home has radiators, forced air vents, or some other heating apparatus, you should take steps to make sure that children cannot burn themselves when the home is being heated.
Many people decorate their bathrooms with plants, but a childproof bathroom requires that plants be out of reach. Even out of reach, plants should be checked to be sure that they aren’t poisonous—even though a child can’t reach a hanging basket, a leaf could fall to the floor.
By necessity or choice, some people keep a cat’s litter pan in the bathroom. Wherever the litter pan is placed, it must remain out of bounds for young children.
Written by Mary Elizabeth
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