5 steps to a safer bathroom

These simple upgrades can prevent slips and falls

Published: July 30, 2015 06:00 AM
Photo: Moen

As we age, injuries in our own homes increase, and bathrooms are no exception. Reduced mobility, impaired eyesight, decreased muscle strength, and balance problems call for adopting some commonsense solutions and extra caution, all part of a plan to create a safer bathroom.

Add grab bars

When someone loses his balance in the bathroom, he instinctively grabs the closest thing to steady himself. The results can be catastrophic if it’s something that’s not properly attached to the wall. To support weight, a grab bar needs to be attached to the studs. Most building codes require grab bars that support at least 250 pounds.

Check water valves

Achy joints or arthritis can make it difficult to turn faucets and shower knobs on and off. That’s why pressure-balancing and anti-scald valves are a good idea. Most building codes require them, but if you live in an older home, your house may not have them. They’re not expensive, but you’ll need to call a plumber. The pressure-balancing valve keeps a steady flow of water in the shower when someone flushes the toilet, and the anti-scald valve keeps water at a safe temperature, usually 120° F.

Choose easy-to-clean surfaces

A buildup of soap scum and mildew can add a slick coating to an already slippery surface, so to make your bathroom safer, encourage your family to wipe down the shower and tub after they bathe. Plus surfaces that are easy to clean require less exertion. Scrubbing grout lines is a chore, so consider solid surfaces or larger tiles for your walls. Look for a skirted toilet with smooth sides.

Run your vent fan

Mold and mildew thrive in damp bathrooms. To rid the room of moisture, make sure you have an exhaust fan that vents to the outside and run it for 15 to 20 minutes after bathing.

Get rid of clutter

Toss the throw rugs and make sure any bath mat you use has nonskid backing. Remove the hamper, scale, and any tripping hazard.

Planning a bathroom remodel?

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Editor's Note:

This article also appeared in the September 2015 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.






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