Each year, about 235,000 people over age 15 visit emergency rooms because of injuries suffered in the bathroom. Kids and older adults are most at risk, but everyone should be aware of bathroom activities associated with high risk for injury and take steps to prevent them, the CDC says. Falls account for 80 percent of all bathroom injuries, and women are more at risk for falling than men. To stay safe:
Install grab bars. Give yourself and your family something to grab onto while bathing or showering. Grab bars are a good idea for everyone, not just the elderly. Yet only 19 percent of homes have them installed in the bathroom, according to a report by the Home Safety Council. Suction grab bars are available, which can be easily mounted in shower and tub stalls. Other grab bar styles have brackets that require wall studding to secure and offer more support.
The latest trend: Grab bars that blend in with a bathroom’s stylish décor. “Grab bars come in all different colors and shapes and many don’t look like grab bars,” says Ruth Lenweaver, the showroom manager at Frank Webb’s Bath and Lighting Center in Syracuse, NY. Grab bars are available at hardware stores and bathroom showrooms. If you’re not handy, consider hiring someone to do the installation or recruiting a skilled friend or family member.
Lighten up. Make sure your bathroom has decent lighting. “You need twice as much light to see well after age 50 as you do when you were 20,” Lenweaver says. Maximize the wattage on bulbs, without going the amount allowed for the light fixture. If you’re installing new lighting, consider installing recessed lighting in the shower. Illuminating the bathroom properly can help you get a firm footing and see what you’re doing and where you’re going without glare.
Use nonslip mats in bathtubs and showers and on floors. Getting in and out of the shower or tub accounts for about half of all bathroom injuries. Hard surfaces that aren’t textured for slip resistance can be as slick as an icy sidewalk. To avoid taking a tumble, slip-resistance mats can help. If you’re remodeling a bathroom, Lenweaver suggests selecting a tub or shower with a textured bottom or an acrylic finish. “It’s softer and forms suction on the feet,” she says.