Safety hazards in the bathroom

A bathroom is often considered a safe haven in the home. It is a place where you can take a long, hot bubble bath or shower, wash away the cares of the world and relax after a hectic day. However, it can be full of hidden safety hazards that can present dangers for you, your children and elderly people who may live in your home. Following just a few commonsense rules will help keep your bathroom a place of safety and relaxation.

Poor lighting

Poor lighting in the bathroom can result in trip and fall accidents. In addition, if medication is kept in the bathroom cabinet, poor lighting can result in accidental medication mix-ups. Use a lighted switch cover in your bathroom so everyone can easily locate the light switch. Also consider using a night-light in the bathroom and in the hallways leading to it. Keep in mind that prescription medicine or over-the-counter medications should not be stored in the bathroom. High humidity may reduce the effectiveness of some medications and keeping them in a safe location will prevent children from accidentally swallowing them.

Accidental falls

Falling, tripping or slipping is a common cause of injuries in the bathroom. This can be due to water that may have spilt or splashed onto the floor or because of slippery surfaces in the bath or shower. The steam and humidity from a hot bath or shower also can make floor surfaces slippery. Avoid using bath oils that leave an oily residue. If you use these types of products, clean the bath after each use.

Install safety features for any family members who have difficulty sitting down or getting up from the toilet seat as well as for those who have difficulty getting in and out of the bath or shower. Features such as grab bars, elevated toilet seats and bath seats can help these individuals. Buy a handheld shower head that can be used while sitting in the shower for those who cannot stand for long periods. Use a tap cushion to prevent head injuries should someone fall while in the bath or shower. Finally, keep your bathroom floor clear of towels, dirty clothes, toys or other objects that do not belong there. Instruct those in your home to put their dirty clothes in a laundry basket -- not on the floor.

Burns and scalds

Keep your water heater set at 48 degrees C (120F) or lower to ensure the safety of small children or elderly people who live in your home. It only takes a few seconds to suffer a burn from hot water. Always test the water with your hand before placing babies or small children into the bath even if you checked the temperature while the water was running. It is wise to swish the water around when you are testing the temperature in order to dissipate any hot spots. Always turn on the cold water first and then add hot water until the temperature is around 38 degrees C (100F). If you are unsure if the water temperature is safe, you can measure the temperature with a bath or cooking thermometer. Always turn the hot water off first when you have enough water in the bath. Never leave a baby or small child alone, even for a few seconds. Drowning deaths can occur in very small amounts of water.

Electrical appliances

Avoid using electric appliances such as small space heaters in your bathroom. If you must, keep the appliance on a counter and make sure the cable does not dangle near water. Never allow a curling iron, hair dryer or other appliance to be close enough to a bath to fall into it. This can electrocute you. Keep the bathroom sink free of water when you are using electric shavers or hair appliances, as these devices can easily fall into the sink. Always unplug any appliances after using them to guard against this type of accidents.

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About the Author

Chelsea Fitzgerald covers topics related to family, health, green living and travel. Before her writing career, she worked in the medical field for 21 years. Fitzgerald studied education at the University of Arkansas and University of Memphis.