The Riskiest Room in Your Home: The Bathroom

The Riskiest Room in Your Home: The Bathroom

By Graham Wood

Kitchen stoves can spark fires or gas leaks that lead to deadly explosions, and some living room glass tables have been known to spontaneously fracture. Sound scary enough? Well, those aren’t the most dangerous situations you could find inside your home.

The room where you’re most at risk of injury (or even death)? The bathroom.

About 235,000 people age 15 or older are sent to the hospital each year after being injured in a bathroom, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than a third of those injuries happen while bathing or showering, and more than 14% happen while using a toilet.

Four out of 5 of those injuries occurred in falls, with 14% of those injured needing to be hospitalized as a result.

The leading cause of injury deaths among senior citizens is falling, and in 2008, more than 19,700 seniors died after unintentional falls, according to the CDC.

Common hazards

With bathroom floors becoming slippery after a shower or bath, it’s easy to see why the bathroom can be a dangerous place. People ages 15 to 24 were found to be most likely to be injured near a bathtub or shower, though. People age 85 and older suffer more than half of their bathroom injuries near the toilet.

This summer, a woman in San Diego slipped in a shower, fell out her second-floor bathroom window and landed at the bottom of a light shaft some 6 to 8 feet below ground level. And last year, rocker Steven Tyler had to call off an Aerosmith concert after he fell in a hotel bathroom and cracked his teeth, requiring emergency dental work.

Preventing injuries

There are various things you can do to prevent bathroom injuries. Grab bars that attach to the wall are a good way to get support when raising yourself from the toilet, for example. Using shower chairs or transfer benches is also a great way to keep from falling on a slippery floor. Transfer benches are wide chairs that allow you to scoot from inside a tub to the outside; some even have sliding seats.