Over 6,500 people drown each year in the United States, mostly in natural bodies of water and swimming pools. However, about 350 of these drown in bathtubs.
Even though drowning rates are highest during the summer months, bathtub drownings occur evenly during the year. They also occur in higher rates in the West. Another variation from other types of drownings is that bathtub drownings happen equally to males and females.Those with the least control over their environment - young children and the elderly - have the greatest risk of drowning.
People with a history of seizures have a high risk of bathtub drowning. Also, a history of alcohol use involves a number of adults drowned in bathtubs.
Several measures can be taken to reduce bathtub drownings:
- Slip-resistant surfaces to prevent falls
- Grab bars to prevent falls
- Parents never leaving, under any circumstances, a young child alone in a water-filled bathtub.
- Never using one young child to watch another child in the bathtub as a substitute for having an adult present.
- For persons subject to seizures, taking a shower instead of a bath; avoiding breakable glass or plastic-enclosed shower stalls; older persons not showering alone; and avoiding hot water which may lower the seizure threshold.
- Never using an electrical appliance while bathing.
- Adults and older children should learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
Hot tubs, spas and Jacuzzis
Residential spas, hot tubs and Jacuzzis also can be hazardous. Although the number of injuries involving such equipment has been limited, it is likely that they will rise with the increasing number of residential hot tubs and Jacuzzis. Because many of these tubs remain filled with water when they are not in use, they, like swimming pools, present a hazard to young children.
Cases have been reported in which children were trapped by the vacuum created by the hot tub's drain. Entanglement of hair in drains also presents a drowning hazard. Adults face different hazards. Because hot water can promote drowsiness, prolonged use or use in combination with alcohol or medications can lead to hyperthermia-induced stupor and drowning.
Adult supervision of young children around water is the best way to prevent drownings. Parents and other caregivers should be made aware of the importance of supervision and the importance of knowing and being able to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
The Centers for Disease Control and the National Pool and Spa Institute have issued guidelines for the safe design, construction, use and maintenance of both commercial and residential hot tubs, spas and Jacuzzis.
Important considerations for the safe use of these products are as follows:
- Residential hot tubs, spas and Jacuzzis should have barriers around them.
- Children in or around these products should be supervised by an adult.
- The maximum water temperature allowable is 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Drains should be equipped with raised safety grates.
- People under the influence of alcohol, drugs or certain medications should not use hot tubs or spas.
- Pregnant women should not use such equipment.