Water safety awareness often revolves around swimming in pools and natural bodies of water, but there’s another source of water that requires just as much caution. You probably hop in the shower or take a bath several times a week – and each one of those occasions can pose a serious risk to your health if you’re not careful. The probability of injury is higher for children and seniors, but bath safety is a good idea for everyone. In an effort to bring some attention to the issue and start the New Year off right, January has been designated as National Bath Safety Month. The prominence of smooth, hard surfaces that become slippery when covered with water is what makes bathrooms such potentially dangerous places. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 234,100 people over age 15 suffer nonfatal bathtub- or shower-related injuries annually, and 81 percent of the injuries are caused by falls. As far as children are concerned, a study by The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital found that more than 43,000 children aged 18 years and younger are treated in hospital emergency departments each year for such injuries. More than half of these injuries are suffered by children 4 years old or younger and 60 percent of them are diagnosed with a laceration (mostly to the face). The risk of falling increases in old age. Annual fall estimates are as high as one out of every three older people. Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injury. Falls are also the reason for most fractures experienced by the elderly, with the spine, hip, forearm, leg, ankle, pelvis, upper arm, and hand being the most commonly fractured body parts. People may be injured by falling in a bathroom at home just as easily as a bathroom at a hotel, spa, gym, hospital or nursing home. All property owners can take a few precautions to reduce slip-and-fall risks, such as:
- Installing nonslip strips, decals, or mats for secure footing
- Installing a bench or chair inside the tub/shower
- Placing a non-slip mat outside of the tub/shower
- Mounting a grab bar (not a towel rack) for assistance in climbing in and out
- Adding a hand-held shower nozzle
- Storing bath items within easy reach
- Making sure bathroom lights are bright to help illuminate hazards.