Steps to a safe bathroom
Nearly 200,000 people are injured annually in their bathrooms, according to statistics from the National Safety Council. The most common accidents are slips, falls and scalding from hot water.
Although all accidents will never be eliminated, the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) says a well-designed bathroom can also be a safe one.
NKBA has developed a few simple guidelines to keep you safe in the bathroom.
1) Ensure slip-resistant flooring is used in all areas of the bathroom. Although most materials are slippery when wet, slip-resistant surfaces can eliminate many falls. Any water on the floor should be wiped up as soon as possible to maintain safety.
2) Eliminate steps leading into tubs or showers. Always try to surround a tub with a platform, where you can sit down before entering or exiting the tub.
3) Select shower doors carefully. Always use shatterproof glass in shower enclosures. Also, if the door is hinged, have it open into the room instead of into the shower. In an emergency, this allows easy access in and out of the shower.
4) Install proper faucets. NKBA recommends pressure-balanced and temperature-controlled valves in the bath and shower to prevent scalding. Also, install faucets in areas that are easily accessible from outside the tub or shower. Avoid having to stretch or reach for water faucets.
5) Add benches and grab bars. By installing grab bars or benches within shower enclosures and near the entrance of tub, the chance of accidental falls greatly decreases.
6) Add emergency shut-offs for whirlpool tubs. Make sure the shut-off can be reached from both inside and outside the tub for maximum safety.
7) Maintain safe distances between water sources and electrical switches. Use ground-fault circuit interrupters on electric receptacles. They shut off when a hazard, such as moisture, is sensed.
8) Use cabinet locks. The bathroom holds many poisonous household products and prescriptions. Always place locks on cabinets where these substances are stored.
To ensure your bathroom meets and exceeds all safety standards, look to a professional to design your bathroom. NKBA members can make your bathroom fashionable, functional and, above all, safe. To find a member near you or to receive your free Kitchen and Bath Workbook, call (877) NKBA-PRO or visit www.nkba.org.