It’s estimated that about 3,000 people age 65 or older die from falls each year in the U.K. Most of these falls occur in the home, and they’re especially likely to happen in the bathroom. The floors are often wet and slippery, and there are plenty of hard surfaces and ledges that can cause injuries during a fall.
But it’s not just a problem for the elderly. Children, people with disabilities, and even healthy adults are also in danger of falling and hurting themselves in the bathroom. According to a study in the U.S. by the Consumer Product and Safety Administration, 37% of those who were injured in a bathroom fall were between the ages of 25 and 64.
Luckily, your bathroom can be made safer by taking a few preventive precautions. Here are a few measures you can take to make your bathroom a safe haven for everyone in your home.
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Top 7 Ways to Fall-Proof Your Bathroom
Use bath mats
For those with impaired movement, operating temperature controls can cause balance problems. Getting in and out of the bathtub or shower can also be difficult. And especially if the bathtub is full, these falls can be fatal.
Non-slip bath mats and tread strips can make a big difference in the tub or shower. They can prevent falls due to slippery surfaces. They can also keep people from slipping on wet tile floors when getting out of the tub or shower. Placing a bath mat both inside and outside the tub or shower is a quick, easy, and inexpensive way to make your bathroom safer.
Treat your tiles for a non-slip surface
Most bathroom tiles are glazed ceramic. These tiles are durable, attractive, and easy to clean-but they’re also slippery, especially when wet. Even fit, healthy adults can slip on a tile floor and hit their heads on the edges of sinks, counters, and bathtubs.
If you’re redesigning your bathroom, you can install tiles with a raised, textured surface to prevent slipping. But if you aren’t planning a redesign project anytime soon, you can treat the tiles you have. Some non-slip treatments change the chemical profile of the ceramic glaze. This makes them more textured and less slippery.
Handrails are a good idea for the elderly, but they’re also helpful if you have young children. Install handrails at a comfortable place for holding at standing level in the shower, and within easy reach from a sitting position in the bathtub. If you have children, you may want to consider installing two sets of handrails-one within easy reach of the kids, and another at a comfortable position for adults.
Put a seat in the shower
Standing in the shower can be problematic for the disabled and the elderly. You can have a shower with a built-in seat installed, but you don’t have to. Instead, buy a portable shower chair or bench that fits the size of your shower.
Some come with features such as padded seats and storage for soaps and shampoos. There are also adjustable benches available that fit over a bathtub, so that bathers can wash without having to lower themselves all the way into the tub.
Use adequate lighting
Many falls happen at night because bathroom lights are not easily accessible in the dark. Especially if you have someone at risk for falls living in your home, you should install a night light in the bathroom. This way, nobody has to grope for a light switch in the dark.
Install a liquid soap dispenser
The elderly and infirm can have trouble bending over to pick up soap in trays that are lower than they should be. And anyone can slip on soap that’s been dropped on the tub or shower floor. To prevent dangerous falls, install a liquid soap dispenser and avoid bar soap. Put the dispenser at a level that can be reached comfortably by adults and children without having to bend down in the shower or stand in the tub.
Keep the floor clear
It can be easy to trip on items left on the floor of the bathroom. It’s obvious that bottles, soaps, and other materials should never be left on the floor. You should also avoid thick, raised rugs, as these can be easy to trip on. Use a slip-proof mat instead; these are thin and unlikely to trip anyone.
The bathroom may be the most dangerous room in the house when it comes to falls. But it doesn’t have to be. Making your bathroom safe doesn’t have to involve a costly redesign, either-you can do it with just a few inexpensive modifications. Follow these tips, and your bathroom can be a safe place for your entire family.