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Bathrooms: Safety First

Posted by Woodrow Aames ~ January 26, 2010

The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) estimates that 200,000 people are injured each year by bathroom falls, slips in the shower, or scalding. The NKBA suggests some straightforward guidelines that are easy for us all to follow. You may have to spend some money upgrading sections of the bathroom, but aren't family members and visitors worth the extra care?

The NKBA suggests removing all steps that lead up to showers or bathtubs, installing platforms instead where bathers can sit before entering the tub or dry off after. If you can, add grab bars and benches in shower stalls to help prevent falls.

Wherever there is water, there's the chance for a nasty spill. Hence, use slip-resistant flooring and install sure-grip latex matting outside the bath or stall. If you're installing new tubs or showers, be sure the water knobs are accessible from outside the tub or shower so bathers don't have to lean into a scalding stream to adjust the temperature. And, certainly, keep all electrical outlets a safe distance from water, employing ground-fault circuit interrupters to cut off current when they detect water.

Prepare Bathrooms for the Elderly

The University of Missouri Extension reports that grab bars, poles, u-bars, portable seats, and transfer benches can make all the difference when it comes to preventing injuries to the elderly or infirm. Angled bars that connect to two walls can provide adequate support when older people need to rise from tubs or benches in the shower. Movable, adjustable seats can help those who cannot stand for long periods at a time.

If you do install seats or chairs, be sure that the legs have non-slip rubber caps to prevent skidding and possible falls. Many of these measures are not very expensive when compared to the potential cost of medical treatment or hospitalization from falls or burns.

You can even employ some of these safety measures in half-baths or guest bathrooms. Finally, you may be able to handle most of these fixes on your own, but don't try anything that's out of your range of abilities. Instead, call a bathroom contractor.

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