When you have a child in the house, even the most ordinary parts of your home can become hazards - and this is especially true of the bathroom.

Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death among children between ages 1 and 4, according to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission - whether it happens in a bathtub or in just an inch or so of water in the toilet. With all of the water, beauty products, chemicals and other routine parts of a bathroom easily accessible, your little one can get into serious trouble fast.

Consider these top tips for childproofing your bathroom and protecting your kids:

Guard entrances and exits from the door to the bathroom to windows to the outside. Think of any entry/exit points to your bathroom and safeguard them.

Put a childproof lock on the door. To keep your kids out of the bathroom when you're not with them, add a childproof cover to the doorknob. Be sure to put one on both the inner and outer knobs to prevent you from getting locked out, too.

Lock windows. Don't let your curious kids climb out or get stuck inside a window. Put a childproof lock on the window, especially if your bathroom is on the second or higher floor.

Put away hazards. Small children don't understand the potential danger associated with water, sharp objects, medicines and chemicals. For this reason, the best prevention is to keep hazards away from their reach.

One way to do this is to lock the cabinets. Whether the cabinets are low to the ground or above the vanity, installing locks ensures that none of their contents unintentionally get into curious hands. Lock the toilet, too. An open toilet is just the right height for a newly mobile baby to reach into, not to mention a source of interest for toddling kids. Protect your children from potential drowning by putting a toilet lock on the seat.

And Medicine, cleaning products, chemicals and beauty products can be dangerous and need to be kept high, out of reach, preferably in a locked cabinet. Do a scan of any reachable areas in the bathroom to check for liquids or toiletries that could be damaging in the wrong hands.

Protect against electrical hazards. Whether it's a curling iron, a blow-dryer, an electric razor or something else you're plugging into the bathroom outlet, always keep it away from water and put it away when you're done. Likewise, put covers on all the electrical outlets so kids can't harm themselves by sticking their fingers inside.

Watch what you trash. Even if the trash can seems out of the way, expect it to be a magnet to your kids. They'll want to reach inside and see what's available to grab. With this in mind, don't throw away anything that could cause harm - from razors to old medicine.

Make bath time safe. Getting clean and playing in the water can be a fun routine for a child, but that doesn't mean bath time is without its dangers.

You can prevent slips in the wet tub or damp bathroom floors by adding mats that work against accidental falls. Never leave your baby in the bathtub alone, and teach him or her to stay seated while in the water. If you have to leave the room for a second, bring your child with you; if your child wants to stand or move around, gently instruct (and re-instruct) that staying seated in the bathtub is a must.

Check your household water temperature. Set the hot water heater to a maximum of 120 degrees to prevent scalding water from harming a baby's skin. You could also install anti-scalding devices on faucets as another preventative measure.


The Parenting Puzzle is provided by the Children's Advocacy Center of Smith County Inc. For more information, call 903-533-1880 or visit www.cacsmithcounty.org.


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