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Safety Hazards in the Bathroom

Published by Nanni on Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Photo credit by Posh Living, LLC

Most people consider the bathroom to be their greatest privacy and safe spot within home. It is where you take the personal time to clean and groom yourself, as well as deal with private matters. People generally feel quite safe in their bathrooms, but there are dangers lurking in this room that must be confronted.

The most obvious hazard in the bathroom is the slick surfaces of the bathtub and shower itself. When these smooth surfaces get wet, they become even more likely to be the cause of a slip or fall. This is especially disturbing in light of the results of a study by the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. It reports that roughly 81% of the 43,000 annual bathroom related injuries to those under the age of 18 are due to slipping in the bathtub or shower. That is about 120 children injured daily by wet bathtub surfaces. The statistics don't get much better for adults, and increase as people become elderly. Rubber slip mats for the tub and strong grip bars and rails can prevent a lot of this tragedy.

The high levels of water used in the bathroom present a few hazards on its own. Spilled or sloshed over water can make the floor as slippery as the tub surfaces, and so care with using the shower curtain is needed to minimize how much gets out of the tub. This water also encourages the growth of mold. The slimy black mold, stachybotrys, flourishes in wet areas, and can increase the incidence of asthma and allergic reactions. Bathroom mold can cause headaches and nausea in even the healthiest of people. If you have mold anywhere in your home, it is best to remove it as quickly as possible.

The temperature you set for the water in your bathroom can be hazardous to your health. Anyone who likes to relax in those billowing clouds of steam should realize that at the temperature needed for the clouds, they are also releasing a low level of chlorine gas into the air of the enclosed space they are bathing in. As well as poisoning you, very hot water can blister and burn the skin. You can eliminate both these hazards in the bathroom by merely lowering the water temperature in your heater to a more reasonable 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Your soaps and shampoos can be a hidden hazard in the bathroom. While a number of personal hygiene companies have discontinued the use of formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane as a preservative in their products, many still include these carcinogenic chemicals in the mix. Even short-term effects include skin irritations such as reddening, blistering, itching, and burning after use. Other cleaners, especially drain cleaners stored under the sink, are potential toxic time bombs.

Modern electrical appliances lend their own hazards to the bathroom environment. Hair dryers and curling irons develop heat, and can themselves cause burns if left on and accidentally touched. Frayed wiring can create electrical shocks and fire hazards if brought into contact with spilled water or wet surfaces. Even if a hair dryer dropped into the tub with you is unlikely to electrocute you, it can still cause a power overload as the fuse burns out. If you keep candles or matches in your bathroom, keep them up in a safe location and leave neither them nor any other electrical appliances on when not in the bathroom.

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