Years ago I spent nearly two full days sitting in an Emergency Room. I saw a wide variety of illnesses and injuries come through the doors during those 10-hour days, but I remember only one injury with any clarity. The paramedics brought in an adult woman – probably in her 40’s or 50’s – on a stretcher and with great urgency. She was soaking wet, and was completely naked except for the shower curtain in which she was wrapped. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out (and I overheard the paramedics tell the doctors and nurses) that she’d fallen in the shower. I’ve never forgotten the look of fear on that woman’s face when she arrived in the ER that day.
January is National Bath Safety Month. According to the Center for Disease Control, approximately 235,000 people over the age of 15 are treated in an emergency department for a bathroom injury each year. That’s about 640 slips, falls, and hot water burns every day, and those numbers increase as people grow older.
Many injuries, including those that commonly occur in the bathroom, are preventable, and so today I’d like to share a few tips to keep you – and your loved ones – safe in the bathroom.
- Install grab bars in bathtubs and showers and next to toilets to prevent falls.
- Use nonslip mats or strips in bathtubs and showers to prevent falls.
- Use nonslip rugs or floor mats outside bathtubs and showers to prevent falls.
- Install scald-prevention devices to monitor water temperature and prevent burns.
- Run exhaust fans while bathing and showering to prevent mold, mildew, and condensation build-up.
- Run supplemental heat sources like space/portable heaters only when in the bathroom, and keep anything flammable (towels, rugs, bathrobes, etc.) at least three feet away.
- Make sure all electrical outlets are ground fault circuit interrupters to protect against electric shock.
- If needed, consider using/installing products like toilet seat risers, shower chairs, and removable shower heads, and transfer benches for added safety.
A post about bathroom-related injuries would be incomplete without addressing drowning. According to the CDC, drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages one to four years, and approximately 100 children under the age of five drown in bathtubs, buckets, or toilets each year. Drowning can occur in just seconds and in only TWO INCHES of water.
I've written about infant/child drowning during a previous January is National Bath Safety Month; you can find that post here if you'd like more information.
Rub-a-dub-dub, stay safe in the tub!
A special thanks to my friends (my real-life friends, not just my connected-by-the-internet friends) at Lehan Drugs who contributed to this post. If you live anywhere near Dekalb, Sycamore, or Rockford, Illinois, go see them - I promise they'll take good care of you!