Quick quiz: What's the most dangerous spot in the house? Sure, kitchens and icy front stoops are common places to injure yourself, but bathrooms rank right up there, according to a report published today from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We slip in the tub or on wet tile. We get dizzy and faint from soaking in a jacuzzi tub too long. We cause a bloody toe on our child's foot from clipping a nail too close to the skin -- okay that's just me.
The CDC, though, wants you to know to beware of the bathroom. The agency estimates that more than 234,000 nonfatal bathroom injuries in those over 15 years of age were treated in emergency departments in 2008. More than 80 percent were caused by falls. (Nail clipper incidents and stubbed toes go unreported since they don't usually require emergency room care.)
Women were somewhat more likely to incur injuries than men and, to no surprise, the injury rates increased with age and were greatest in those over 85. In young people, the biggest risk was posed by getting in and out of the tub or shower. In older folks, getting off and on the toilet was most problematic.
All in all, bathroom injuries represent only a small fraction of the nearly 22 million injuries in 2008 that resulted in an ER visit, according to the CDC. Still, it's not a bad idea to take certain precautions.
-- Use non-skid decals or a rubber mat inside the tub to prevent slips.
-- Dry your feet thoroughly before walking on an uncarpeted floor.
-- Install grab bars in showers and tubs and, if you need them for balance, by toilets.
-- Keep the temperature on your hot water heater set below 120 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent scalding burns.
-- Make sure that all electrical outlets in the bathroom are grounded to prevent electrical shock. When in doubt, consult an electrician and have a GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlet installed, especially for outlets near bathroom sinks.
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