Whether you’re planning to build a new bathroom or update an old one, you can make your family’s wellbeing a top priority, stylishly.
by Nancy Mattia
Accidents happen at home, especially in the bathroom. Water is often the culprit – people slip in the shower, tub, and in puddles on the floor and get burned by scalding temperatures. Then there are tripping hazards and If you’ve got young children, there are even more concerns. Here’s how to reduce the risks and help everyone stay safe.
1. Don’t lock the door when you’re inside.
Everyone wants privacy in the bathroom, but locking the door could be dangerous. If you injured yourself and needed help, a rescuer would first have to try his best MacGyver moves to unlock the door. It’s better to keep it closed but unlocked.
2. But do lock it on the outside if you’ve got a young child.
An effective way to keep your curious child out of the bathroom when he’s out of your sight is to install a hook-and-eye lock high up on the door that’s out of your child’s reach.
3. Install a child-safety toilet lock.
Another way to keep little ones safe is to have a lock on the toilet to prevent them from opening the lid and falling in. There are many toilet styles and types of locks, so shop around and test out which one fits your toilet best.
4. Install grab bars.
“Having grab bars inside and outside the shower, tub, and toilet reduces falls,” says Bonnie Lewis, who owns the interior design firm, 55 Plus TLC, in Scottsdale, Arizona. But the bars won’t work if they’re not installed correctly. She says it’s a mistake “to use the type of anchor you’d use to hang a painting.” To be certain they’re installed properly, hire someone who is a certified aging-in-place specialist or a builder/remodeler trained to do the installation. Aesthetically, grab bars now come in many styles and finishes that match your bathroom’s other fixtures.
5. Remove medications.
Even if your meds have child-safety caps, don’t leave them in the medicine cabinet if your kids can climb and grab them. It’s safer to put them in a high place out of reach of little climbers. “Medications” doesn’t just refer to prescriptions but aspirin, cold remedies, and all over-the-counter medications too.
6. Choose slip-resistant products.
Soap and water are a natural combo but a hazardous one in the tub. You can help prevent falls by installing a nonslip mat with rubber backing. If you’re remodeling, choose slip-resistant porcelain or ceramic tiles, says Lewis. Avoid mosaic glass—it’s pretty, but as a flooring material, it poses a slipping risk.
7. Say no to big tiles.
The size of your floor tile can help prevent injury too. “Install small tiles, which are less slippery than bigger ones and require more grout,” says Lewis. Grout increases traction, especially on a wet floor.
8. Avoid glass objects.
Whether it’s a drinking vessel or a container to hold cotton swabs, anything made of glass should never find its way to the bathroom. If it breaks, you may step on slivers or shards of glass and cut yourself.
9. Lower the water heater temperature.
If your water heater is set to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, lower it—at that temperature, someone could burn their skin. Setting the heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit will reduce the risk.
10. Remove slippery throw rugs.
The rug may be a perfect match with the curtains but if it’s got no traction left and slips or bunches up, it’s a hazard and needs to be taken away.
11. Change to a curbless shower entrance.
When a threshold is flat rather than raised, the risk of tripping while entering or leaving the shower goes way down, says Lewis. It’s especially important for homeowners who are aging in place and essential if someone is in a wheelchair.
12. Wipe up puddles on floor immediately.
Water is vital but also the enemy in the bathroom, where spills and falls occur when you don’t sop up water from the floor. Remember: A dry floor is a safe floor, so keep a mop handy and remove wet spots pronto.