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Editorial

Safety Pro


House Safety Tour the Bathroom



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04/01/2012 - If not the most popular room in the house, the bathroom is certainly one of the most visited of all the rooms. For its basic size, it also has the greatest number of hazards per square foot than any other room, except for, perhaps, your storage shed.

Studies show that 70% of home accidents occur in the bathroom. The combination of water and smooth surfaces makes taking a bath or shower particularly dangerous. And you thought your kids simply enjoyed their own body odor over wanting to take a bath. Who knew it was a self-preservation response? Over 100 persons die of bathtub-related burn injuries every year and one person dies every day from using a bathtub/shower in the United States. Bathroom deaths are the second leading cause of accidental death and disability after automobile accidents.

So, what do we do to stay alive when visiting the most used room in the house? Regardless of your age, here are some pointers to ensure you and your family's safety.

First, on a somewhat lighter note yet all too real of identified hazards, consider these real-world events. One of the most common hazards to young boys' genitalia is the toilet seat falling while attempting to go. Smaller children drown by toddling head-first into the toilet bowl. People have dislocated hips from sitting down on the toilet rim without the seat in place. Skin has been pinched and blood drawn from sitting on split plastic seats. Also imagine using the toilet as a stepping stool to reach above your head and having your feet slip out from under you. Ouch!

Grab bars for tubs, showers, and even the commode help prevent slips and falls. Ensure that the flooring remains clean and dry. If using a bath mat to soak up water, make sure that it has grippers on the bottom so it doesn't become a 'slip and slide.'

Before installing non-slip strips to the bottom of your tub or shower, carefully select the right material so they are durable. Some cleaning materials may not be compatible and cause the strips to peel, flake, or otherwise not stick. This creates a real problem if pieces try going down the drain and clog. Many of the newer tubs and showers don't need the added strips.

Medicine cabinets and under-the-sink vanities are marvelous storage facilities for all sorts of toxic, cutting, and otherwise dangerous products. Do not place these items where pets and children can eat or play with them.

Scalding can be a problem if your water heater is set too high. Thermostats are generally easy to adjust. You want the water in your sink and tub to be under 120 F. A nice red ring develops on submerged skin at 110 F.

Electrical hazards are deadly. Newer bathrooms are required to have ground fault circuit interrupter receptacles to the circuit breaks if moisture becomes a factor with your plug-ins. Test the circuit by pushing the 'test' button to know that it still works properly.

Randy DeVaul (safetypro@roadrunner.com) is a safety professional and emergency response instructor.. Comments are always welcome.

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