In this blog I discuss how we can avoid the third-worst cause of injuries in the bathroom, those related to the storage of items in the bathrooms we use every day.
Lack of Proper Storage
Given that bathroom designs have remained virtually unchanged since the introduction of indoor plumbing, safe accommodation for supplies, towels, and other bathroom related items is grossly inadequate. Many people are forced to place shampoos and bathing soap, brushes, razors and washcloths and other various items in and around the tub or shower; often in dishes or on add-on accessories in the bathing area. This can lead to accidentally stepping, sitting or leaning on items that result in an injury.
Clutter can also lead to a pain or reflex action (as much with hot or cold or shock or scald issues with water) or slip-related falls. Items on seats, benches or left out about the tub or shower can fall into the floor of the bathing area of tubs and showers, leading to injury or falls resulting from overexertion, over-extension, or loss of stability attempting to retrieve the fallen items.
Many bathrooms lack sufficient storage for towels and other clothing and grooming items. The areas outside the bathing area but in proximity to the bathtub or shower can be cluttered with towels, scales, baskets and the like on the floor, doors and other improper locations. These can lead to tripping or loss of balance while attempting to maneuver around them or trying pick them up for use.
The solution: When installing a walk-in bathtub or appropriate safe bathing appliance, it is important to take into account which items are going to be necessary for the bather to enjoy their baths and have the supplies and items they need. Nothing else should be in the bathroom.
Hampers, clothes, baskets, excess grooming supplies, hair dryers, anything with a cord or table that can be a trip hazard should be removed from the bathroom and located in another spot where the bather can use them safely. The old dressing areas that were common for women prior to the time that we had indoor bathrooms are a perfect example of moving these activities away from the bathroom.
The bather needs open access, what I call a “traffic pattern,” from the doorway into the bathroom to the bathing appliance and back out again without any obstacles or hazards in the way.
In the bathtub itself, less is better. Limit accessories, shampoos, soaps, and other items in the immediate bath area to only those that are absolutely necessary for that particular bathing experience.
Shelves and support items should be individually located, and suction-cupped or adjusted based on the materials within your bathing environment. Just as with your flow valves, think of ergonomics, ease of reach, and lack of exertion to get to any items within the bathtub.
As indicated above, having an item that falls to the floor or is hard to reach can actually set up a significant risk of injury. Bottom line – be smart and think things through. Minimize anything in the bathroom that is unnecessary and creates clutter. Install the trays, soap dishes, and carriers that are appropriate for your specific situation and put items within easy reach while securing them from a fall to the floor.
Stay tuned for the next installment of the Bentley Baths blog, in which I discuss how your own choices are the most important element in bathroom safety.