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Accident proofing your bathroom

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Having grip bars in the bathroom helps children and the elderly to avoid accidents and break falls. PHOTO/Rachel Mabala

While the bathroom is the most relaxing part of the house for most people, it also turns out to be one of the most accident-prone places owing to easy water spills and the hard surfaces and sharp edges therein. It is therefore essential that we find ways to proof our bathrooms from accidents. Dr Franklin Wasswa, a general practitioner, says accidents in bathrooms are more common among seniors and children inasmuch as anyone can suffer accidents there. Here are ways to secure this prized part of the house.

Keep the bathroom organised

Ensuring that the flooring is not cluttered is one sure way to ensure accidents do not easily happen in bathrooms. For children, Erica Muleme, a mother, says keeping soaps and other similar items away from their reach should be standard practice. “A bathroom is safe when items have a designated storage place. In the case of children, especially toddlers, keeping certain items out of their reach ensures that if they walked into the bathroom unnoticed, they are unlikely to ingest anything that will harm them. Moreover, if liquid soaps such as shampoo are in close range, a spill could lead to a fall which is dangerous,” she shares.

Tracy Twinomujuni, an interior designer adds that ensuring that soap dispensers are not easily moveable works for both children and seniors to avoid spills. “While the soap will be out of reach for children, it will not easily topple in the case of seniors. In both instances, a fall is avoided,” she adds.

Get rid of bathtubs

In the case of seniors, Dr Wasswa bathtubs are the biggest obstacle as many can easily trip at the sides. “For a better and worry-free experience, installing a walk-in tub is the best solution for a home with an elderly person,” he advises.

In the case of children (toddlers) bathtubs may seem interesting but Muleme says if the child is left unattended, they can easily drown. “It is therefore imperative that toddlers are never left unattended when in the bathtub to avoid such accidents,” she cautions.

Muleme adds that a shower is generally a better option than bathtubs because the accidents in showers are fewer.

Install grip bars

As they get older, Dr Wasswa says, people’s balance starts getting skewed and adding grip bars at the toilet and bathtub will save you an emergency. “These bars offer an extra precautionary measure against falls in the bathroom. They also come in handy when the person is feeling weak as they offer support,” he says.

Muleme adds that children can also benefit from these bars as they could be the only support they get when experiencing a fall. “Therefore, do not install them too high for them to reach,” she shares.

Children should never be left unattended

While it takes a lot to run a household, more so with toddlers, Muleme cautions parents and guardians against allowing children into bathrooms without supervision. “Chances of putting anything in their mouth are high, which is dangerous depending on what it is. On the other hand, children love water and the possibility of getting into a tub and turning on the tap cannot be ruled out yet this can lead to drowning. Therefore, it is important to be with them through their bath and to put locks on doors to stop them accessing the area without your notice,” she points out.

Install adequate lighting

Poor lighting, more so at night, is a precursor to accidents as people try to make their way to and around the bathrooms. Therefore, Twinomujuni advises homeowners to ensure that the corridors leading to the bathrooms as well as bathrooms have ample lighting so people do not bump into anything. “It is also important that the switches are easily accessible so that when one is using the bathroom in the night, it is an enjoyable experience, devoid of accidents,” she advises.

Use the right floor material

Apart from adding a non-slip mat, Adrian Nangosha, a contractor at Concept MacFaj says homeowners ought to be keen on the flooring material used. “Mats will not take up the entire floor of your bathroom, such as at the toilet area in instances where the toilet and bathing space are in one room. Therefore, ensure that the floor tiles used have texture to increase grip thus reducing slipping and falls,” he advises.

While accident proofing a bathroom may come at an extra cost, the emergencies and losses avoided outweighing the cost. Therefore, it is worth the effort and investment.

Add a non-slip mat

Water spills are a given in bathrooms and that is a recipe for a fall. Nonetheless, to avoid such catastrophic happenings, Twinomujuni says installing a non-slip mat will do the users well. “It could be a child choosing to use the place as a hide and seek hideout, a senior walking in to take a bath or any other person in the house using the place. A non-slip mat will help you avoid the regrets,” she advises. These mats are not restricted to the floor as they can also come in handy for the shower and bathtub to avoid slips.