Bathtub drowning deaths. New twists on an old problem

TitleBathtub drowning deaths. New twists on an old problem
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsAssociate Professor Franklin, RC, Pearn, JH
Conference NameWorld Conference on Drowning Prevention
Date Published09/2007
PublisherInternational Life Saving Federation
Conference LocationPorto, Portugal
Other Numbers02-34

In the past decade, newly-introduced bathroom furniture and childcare equipment have made the daily bathing of infants and preschool children more pleasurable and ergonomically easier for parents and carers, bath seats are now widely used. Tragically we have documented several deaths from their use in Australia; and similar cases have been reported elsewhere.

Children drown in the bath as a result of:

  1. parental ignorance or unawareness of the risk;
  2. parental distraction, often only for several minutes;
  3. childhood illnesses such as epilepsy;
  4. unlawful child killing; and
  5. insufficient resuscitation skills of parents or cares confronted with a bathtub immersion incident.

We describe here the emergent risk inherent in bath seats usage from an analysis of several hitherto unpublished cases of fatal incidents and a review of ten similar cases know to us from Australia and the United States. The essential dynamic is a parental misunderstanding that this new and popular child care aid doe not effectively support or restrain the child from submersion.

Following the introduction of compulsory warning labels the remaining challenge is heightened parental and community awareness through education.

Learning Outcomes
  1. New and increasing cause of childhood drowning
  2. Effects of newly introduced technology and it impacts on drowning
  3. Use of legislation combined with heightened awareness and ongoing public education to prevent drowning deaths.