The whole family uses the bathroom – most often without supervision. How safe is your bathroom? If any of the following is true of yours, do something about it as soon as possible before tragedy strikes.
Very hot water. The water in your geyser should not be hotter than 55 - 60 degrees Celsius. If it is, it can easily scald those who inadvertently land under it in the shower, having forgotten to open the cold tap as well. In any case, it's expensive to keep the geyser close to boiling point all the time.
Medication in bathroom cupboard. Medication of any kind should not be kept in the bathroom cupboard. A child could do lots of damage to him or herself by ingesting even three or four paracetamol or aspirin tablets – let alone prescription drugs.
Gas leaks. Every now and then one reads a sad story in the newspaper about someone taking a shower in a beach cottage and gassing themselves by mistake. Gas leaks are dangerous – whether in bathrooms or kitchens. If you smell gas, switch off everything and get out of the house as soon as possible – even if you only have a towel around your body.
Slippery floor. Imagine being in plaster of Paris for six weeks after breaking a leg slipping on a wet bathroom floor. Invest in a wooden or rubber bathroom mat or a non-slip bathroom floor. It is also an idea, especially if you have elderly relatives living with you, to have a non-slip rubber mat in the bath. Possibly also in the shower. Remember that when you use hair conditioner, it tends to make surfaces even more slippery.
No handrail next to bath. Getting in and out of the bath can be quite hazardous, especially for older people. Nasty falls can happen like this, especially if people slip in the bath and fall onto the side of it, or onto the floor. A handrail, or even just a handle in the wall, can help you keep steady while getting in and out.
Accessible razor blades. Razor blades are dangerous, especially if children get hold of them. Keep them out of reach, or even better, in your cupboard in your bedroom instead of in the bathroom.
Real glass on basin. A plastic cup is better than a real glass for rinsing your mouth after brushing your teeth. If the glass were to fall into the basin and break, some shards could cause nasty cuts.
Dirty towels. Towels need to be washed regularly, as they are wonderful breeding grounds for bacteria. Infections can be passed on from one family member to another, if they use the same towel.
No proper disinfectant. Proper disinfectant should be used to clean all surfaces in the bathroom, especially shower stalls, the bath, the toilet and the washbasin. The bathroom is moist and warm – ideal breeding ground for bacteria. If you don't want to use strong disinfectant, a cloth moistened with vinegar could also do the job.
Any electrical connections. There should be no electrical connections or extension cords in the bathroom. Any contact between a live electrical connection and water can result in electrocution. This is the reason why electric shavers have special connections, into which nothing besides the shaver can be plugged. Beware of electrical extension cords linked to washing machines or dryers.
(Susan Erasmus, Health24, updated September 2012)
(Picture: Man in bathroom from Shutterstock)