Keeping Medically Fragile Kids Safe in the Bath
What’s Your Hygiene Routine?
January is National Bath Safety month! The bathroom can be an oasis, a place of serenity and comfort. It’s where we go to clean off the day and get refreshed. After a bath, you don’t just feel better, you are better – ready to start again. But if you’re a caregiver or parent to a medically fragile child, bath time can be a painful struggle. Also, bathrooms can be notoriously dangerous places – which is why bath safety month exists.
Bringing awareness to the obvious and unseen dangers of the bath is needed. After all, according to the Center for Disease Control, more children aged 1-4 die from drowning than any other cause of death except birth defects. This number includes drowning in a tub. Slips, falls, and burns are definite possibilities in the bathroom –especially for medically fragile children.
Here are 5 surprising issues to think about when it’s bath time:
1. Know your lifts and chairs
Once your child grows beyond 30 pounds or so, he or she will likely become too heavy to lift on your own. Although you may own a portable lift that is built to move a person from a chair to a wheelchair or a standing person to a bed, they cannot get under a tub. A ceiling lift runs on tracks and can move the child easily from a room to a bathroom. Look into systems and chairs that will work specifically for your need.
As some children can get from a wheelchair into the bathtub, they may be more comfortable going from a wheelchair to a bath chair inside the tub. Some chairs are made so the child is completely submerged and can play and relax in the bath, while they are propped up and supported.
2. Bathing away from the tub
If bathing is too taxing on all involved every night, it may be easier to save bath days inside a bath for once or twice a week and opt for bathing in a chair or bed. There are bath blankets and towels specially created to keep the child warm while they are wet or after they have been washed.
Some washcloths have been created to be submerged and then warmed up in a microwave. Also, specifically designed sinks can be moved over to the bed to wash hair. The in-bed wash system is portable and allows for the child to stay relaxed on their backs while their hair is washed and rinsed.
3. Organization is key
The need to move around the bathroom to constantly grab shampoos and soaps can pose a serious risk. The more you move around the bathroom, the greater your chances increase for a fall. Consider having everything you’ll need organized in a basket inside the tub or within arm’s reach. Also, remember to keep the path you walk in the bathroom clear of debris and items that may cause a trip or fall.
4. Watch the temperature
The water needs to be just right to have an enjoyable bathing experience—especially for children who may have sensitive or delicate skin. Make sure you get the temperature right before the child enters the tub. In addition to this, make sure your child enters the tub after you have the desired amount of water required.
A fantastic safety tool is your home’s water heater. Try to make sure it is set at not going about 120 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don’t have access to the water heater, look into an anti-scald device that is attached to the faucet.
5. Hold on and focus
It may always be a good idea to install a bath railing or support bar in your shower. Anyone regardless of age or ability can easily fall in a shower or bathtub. A bar can easily help and is not difficult to install.
Remember that when bath time comes around, there can be no distractions. If you are bathing a child, whether medically fragile or not, do not let yourself be tempted to walk away to make a phone call or do another chore. A medically fragile child requires constant attention, especially in the case when they are in imminent danger.
It only takes a moment for a disaster to occur. You have the power to keep that from happening.