Design a Safe Bathroom

Bathrooms are among the most dangerous places in a house. You'll reduce the risk by keeping a few ideas in mind as you design your bathroom.

Add a Separate Shower Most accidents occur when people are climbing in and out of a bathtub. If you can do with a shower instead of a tub (or if you have enough room for a separate tub and shower), a walk-in shower without a threshold will reduce the risk of falling. To make your shower safer, equip it with grab bars, a bench, and storage alcoves that eliminate the need to reach far or stoop. Shower doors should be made of laminated glass with a plastic interlayer; tempered glass; or an approved, shatter-resistant plastic. No lighting fixtures, electrical outlets, or switches should be within reach of a person in a tub or shower.

Eliminate Steps Although steps leading to a whirlpool tub or sunken shower look dramatic, they can cause a fall. If steps are necessary, equip them with handrails and a slip-resistant surface.

Mind the Rugs Any rug you use should have a rubberized, slip-resistant backing.

Install Grab Bars Often viewed as a specialized feature, grab bars are a sensible addition to any bath. In the shower, for example, a well-placed grab bar greatly reduces the risk and enables you to wash between your toes without needing a tightrope-walker's balancing skills. Install grab bars in the shower, tub, and beside the toilet. Make sure they're properly anchored to framing studs, not just screwed or glued to wallboard.

Avoid Sharp Edges Choose rounded corners on countertops and other components. Also look for rounded, oversize hooks designed especially for bathroom use.

Control Water Temperature If you set the thermostat on your water heater no higher than 120 degrees, your hot water will be plenty warm, yet it won't scald anyone. A pressure-balancing valve will improve matters further by preventing sudden fluctuations in water temperature when someone turns on the dishwasher or flushes a toilet.

Use GFCI Outlets To prevent electrical shock, install ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) on all outlets, switches, and light fixtures.

Select the Right Hardware Door hardware that can be unlocked from both sides is the safest for bathrooms. With this kind of lock, you can rescue an incapacitated person or a child who gets locked in.


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