Bathroom Safety: What can I use to prevent falls around the bathtub?

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What can I use to prevent falls around the bathtub?

Question

I have been using a regular tub mat and I have almost fallen on several occasions, I am a senior on fixed income and I rent my apartment. Can you tell me what I can use in and around the tub to be safe?

Our answer

Bathroom slips and falls can cause serious injury, so it is important to take steps to make your bathroom as safe as possible. There are a number of products on the market that can help to prevent falls in the bathroom. Below are direct links to some examples of such products:

  • SlipX Solutions Extra Long Vinyl Bath Mat (at amazon.ca) is made of high-quality, anti-slip vinyl and provides 30 percent more coverage than the average bath mat. This product, which has nearly 200 suction cups that hold it firmly in place, costs about $20 (Cdn).
  • Microban Large Rubber Safety Tub Mat (at Bed, Bath & Beyond Canada) offers slip-resistant protection and is machine washable. This product costs about $27 (Cdn). 
  • Round Shower Mat (at wayfair.ca) is a specially shaped anti-slip mat that provides convenient floor coverage in a standard shower stall. This product, which features over 80 suction cups for reliable slip protection, costs about $40 (Cdn). 

It is recommended that you place a non-slip mat inside your bath as well as outside (where you step to exit the shower). For outside the bath, select a bath mat with non-slip backing rather than suction cups. Below are direct links to a couple of examples:

  • For Living Bath Mat (at Canadian Tire) features a soft top layer with a non-slip backing for secure footing. This product costs about $25 (Cdn), plus a shipping fee. 
  • Hometrends Memory Foam Blue Melange Rug (at Walmart Canada) has a soft texture and a skid-resistant backing for added safety. This product costs about $20 (Cdn). 

Shower/bath chairs or stools can also provide much-needed stability and offer a comfortable resting place while showering.

For added support when bathing, you may also want to look at grab bars, which are designed to provide additional support when getting into and out of the shower or tub. Depending on your rental situation you may be allowed to have grab bars installed in your bathroom. If you cannot have grab bars installed permanently, you may be interested in clamp-on grab bars, which offer a more secure alternative to portable grab bars, and are temporary and easy to install. Drive Medical Parallel Bathtub Shower Grab Bar Safety Rail (at Walmart Canada) is a clamp-on grab bar designed to fit a wide range of bathtubs. The grab bar securely attaches to the edge of the tub by using a locking mechanism and rubber pads. This easy to install grab bar which does not require any tools is about $40 (Cdn).

Another temporary option for bathroom safety are security poles. You can read more about some of the different options in this response to a previous Ability411 question. The security poles may be affixed with screws in a permanent setup, or tension-mounted for a temporary solution. They should be professionally installed and the cost ranges between $200 and $400 (Cdn).

If you choose to purchase a permanent grab bar, it is recommended that you have it professionally installed and that you consult a registered health professional such as an occupational therapist or physiotherapist for grab bar placement. Here are direct links to some examples of products you may want to explore:

  • 1-1/2 inch Securemount Grab Bar (at Home Depot Canada) is an ADA compliant grab bar with a textured surface, making it easier to grip onto. This product costs about $55 (Cdn). 
  • Chrome Knurled Grab-Bar (at HME Mobility & Accessibility) is a steel bar designed to provide added security in and around the bathroom. This product, which is available in a number of sizes, ranges in price from about $30 to $50 (Cdn). HME Mobility & Accessibility also offers professional installation for an added charge. For more information, call HME Mobility & Accessibility toll-free at 1-778-734-1981.

If you believe you are at risk or prone to falling, it may be a good idea to look into purchasing a medical alert system. Many of the pendants available are waterproof and can be warn in the bath or shower.

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