When you live with older grandparents or parents, as well as younger children, bathrooms easily become one of the most common sites for accidents in your home. As their primary caretaker, it’s your responsibility to ensure their safety, especially since these demographics are vulnerable to getting hurt in many different ways.
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Bathrooms are notoriously hazardous because of a multitude of reasons. Aside from having only a few dependable things that seniors and kids can grasp onto, bathrooms also have slippery surfaces that significantly increases the chances of your loved ones getting harmed. Spinal cord injury, head contusions, and broken or fractured bones usually result from severe accidents. Minor fall-related ones, on the other hand, can cause cuts, scrapes, and bruises.
All you need is a list of bathroom safety improvement ideas and adding items based on the potential safety hazards you've identified. Once you have distinguished those weak points, your next step is to make sure not only the distribution of every item is optimal but also the right materials and dimensions to place, such as Grab bars to ease motion and reduce any chance of accidents.
Below are some of the items you can install on your bathroom to make it a safer place for seniors and kids alike.
1. Grab Bars
A common item that bathrooms have are towel bars, and even if they’re good for actually holding towels, they aren’t built to support your seniors’ or kids’ weight. That said, don’t think that towel bars are enough for your loved ones to hold onto as they climb in and out of your bathroom’s tub. If you really want to support the balance of your seniors and kids when they enter or exit the tub or shower, then, install grab bars instead. Make sure to place reliable grab bars, like Bobrick grab bars, in easy-to-reach places.
There are a few things you have to keep in mind when choosing grab bars for your bathroom. First, make sure that their color is contrasted from that of the wall to maximize visibility. Second, they should be slip-resistant. Choose “grip” surface bars over those with a high gloss finish. Third, ensure that the grab bars provide adequate support by securely fixing them to the studs of your bathroom’s wall. That said, choose “bolted on bars” instead of suction cup bars that actually slip away easily once body weight is applied.
Grab bars best suit your elders, especially those having good upper body strength. By holding onto the grab bars, they can move or stand easily and more comfortably. It’s best to look and find out where your seniors usually hold onto as they enter or exit the shower to know where’s the best place you can install grab bars. Make their behavior safer instead of changing it.
2. Get A Shower Chair Or A Tub Transfer Bench
Another safety precaution you can take is to add a shower chair or tub transfer bench on your bathroom, especially since most of the bathroom accidents happen when seniors and kids slip in and around the shower or tub. What to look for in a shower chair or tub transfer bench? Get one with a backrest for stability. Also, look for a versatile model that will allow you to transfer a senior from their wheelchair. And, of course, make sure that the one you’ll choose provides adjustable height and bars, a non-slip grip, and is sturdy enough to support the weight of your loved ones. For people with conditions that make sitting in a regular bathtub difficult, you can use walk-in tub with necessary safety features.
3. A Handheld Showerhead
You’ll want to switch to a handheld showerhead so you can maximize your bathroom chair. Using a few basic tools, you can implement this inexpensive modification yourself or by hiring a plumber. Please keep in mind that a practical showerhead, one that can be easily manipulated by arthritic fingers, is better than all those fancy spa showerheads that promise high pressure.
4. Stepping Stools
Have you already seen your child turning a bucket in the bathroom upside down to use it in reaching the sink? Some scale the tub's side for it to serve as a foothold so they can reach the medicine cabinet, the window, or the ledge. Well, kids love improvising, and they're really good at it. They simply love to climb things.
While you can help when you’re in the bathroom with them, things can easily go sideways if you’re not. To prevent your kids from being inside the bathroom unattended, use weighted doors so they’d always require your assistance when opening it. If your kids already wash their hands or brush their teeth without your help, make sure to place sturdy stepping stools inside the room. Place the stools under the bathroom sink.
The stepping stools you'll choose should be sturdy and should come in different heights. Also, make sure that they can be washed easily. They should also be child-friendly by having round edges and bright colors. Most importantly, the stools should have non-toxic paint, especially since kids sometimes nibble on things around them.
5. Child-Friendly Thermometers
Kids love to play with the faucet, and if the one you got in your bathroom makes use of a water heating system, then, you should be wary about scalding. The best thing to do is to install specialty taps that will automatically reduce the water flow when it gets very hot, avoiding the scorching trickle from doing more damage. Why install these when you can just shut the faucet tight so your kids can’t easily open it? Well, while it can be another good option, sometimes, you can’t really stop your children from opening the faucet, especially when you’re not with them.
You can also opt for faucets that have a LED light warning functionality, which means that it will light up as soon as the water gets too hot. This way, you can easily spot if your child is in danger and remove them away from the tap immediately.
Rubber ducks that change their colors as the water in your bathroom heat up can be a more pocket-friendly solution. Place them in the water where you can keep an eye on them. Heat-sensitive toys can also teach kids how to test the waters. Later on, your children will be using the rubber duck to know if the water is too hot or not, ensuring that the water is safe.
6. Raised Toilet Seat
A raised toilet seat is capable of increasing the height of the toilet seat by 3-4 inches. As you probably already know, most elders find it difficult to lower themselves down when sitting on the toilet. Rising back safely to their standing position is another struggle. These problems are caused by their lack of balance, as well as weakened arms and legs. By placing a raised toilet seat, you can reduce not only the distance that seniors have to cover to sit and rise from the toilet, but also the overall amount of squatting.
Aside from the items mentioned above, it's also a good idea to place nightlights in your bathroom. These go a long way in avoiding stumbles in the dark. If possible, install multiple touch-sensitive lights. You may think that these things will only waste electricity, but don't forget that elders suffer from weakened eyesight, and helping them see a lot more clearly would contribute so much to their safety.