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Bathroom Safety Tips for Your Family

By Clive Chansa

Bathrooms are a particularly dangerous part of the home. It's a dangerous place for falls and injuries to occur. Common bathroom accidents include scalds, fainting from heat, falls on slippery floors, and head injuries from falling against bathroom fixtures. It is important to install devices designed to prevent accidents - such as grab bars, bath mats, and bath rails.

Here are some tips to help you improve safety in your bathroom:

1. Bathroom doors locked from the inside can delay important medical intervention if an accident occurs. Make sure the bathroom has an easy way to unlock the door from the outside.

2. The bathroom is the most likely area of a household where a person may fall. Bathroom floors can be very slippery if they get wet. It is not always easy to see the wet area. Nonslip floors in the bathroom will help prevent slips and falls. Don't have loose rugs on bathroom floors. Remove any throw rugs from the bathroom and all corridors leading to the bathroom. Placing non-skid adhesive strips in the tub or on the floor of the bathroom is an easy and inexpensive way to prevent falls.

3. Install grab bars to help you get in and out of the bathtub or shower. Grab bars can help prevent falls. Check existing bars for strength and stability, and repair if necessary.

4. A light switch near the door will prevent you from walking through a dark area. Consider replacing the existing switch with a "glow switch" that can be seen in the dark.

5. Always test the temperature of the bath or shower water with your hand before you get in. The heat from the hot water in the bath or shower could make you lightheaded, so don't stay in the water too long. Water temperature above 120 degrees can cause tap water scalds. Lower the setting on your hot water heater to "Low" or 120 degrees.

6. As far as electricity is concerned, the bathroom is possibly the most dangerous room in the house. Water is a very efficient conductor of electrical current which makes the combination of water and electricity potentially lethal. Don't place a plug-in radio, a compact disk player, or a cassette tape player near your bath and don't allow electric cords to trail where people can trip on them. Always make sure that your bathroom is well lit and invest in several night lights.

Even an appliance that is not turned on, such as a hairdryer, can be potentially hazardous if it is left plugged in. If it falls into water in a sink or bathtub while plugged in, it could cause a lethal shock.

7. Many falls occur when a person is rushing to get to the toilet. It is easy to skid on a wet floor or a loose mat around the base of the toilet. Use the toilet before it becomes a matter of urgency.

8. People with a wide variety of physical and mental impairments may require some modification of the bathroom to improve safe access to the toilet. Bathrooms should be modified to compensate for the person's altered mobility.

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