Here at InHomeSafetyGuide, we’re passionate about educating the public on senior health and safety issues, but we also feel it’s our duty to bust through common safety misconceptions that will make everyone safer, no matter what your age.
We often talk about falling in regards to seniors, but it’s not just seniors who can take a tumble in the tub. A recent news story proves that loud and clear.
You may not know who Sridevi Kapoor is, but much of the world does. She was a famous Bollywood star who rose to success in the 1980s and continued making movies and starring in television shows until very recently when she slipped, fell, and drowned in the bathtub. She was only 54.
You may be wondering how a relatively young and healthy woman could slip, fall, and drown in her own bath. Well, it’s true that there were trace amounts of alcohol in her system, but the root cause was simply that she lost her balance, fell into the tub, and drowned.
Falling in the bathroom is a lot more common than you might think. There are about 110,000 bathtub or shower-related accidents in the United States each year. On average, 10 people die each day from an unintentional drowning, whether in the bath or in the pool.
Think deaths related to falls in the bathroom always involve seniors? You’d be wrong; About 10 people die from unintentional drowning every single day, and two of those people are under the age of 14. Non-boating related drownings surprisingly rank fifth among the leading causes of death in the United States.
Even if you or your loved one survives, life may not be the same. If knocked unconscious or resuscitated after drowning, the victim could experience memory problems, learning disabilities, and even the loss of basic functioning. That’s why a fall is so dangerous to seniors, but with these potential consequences, it’s something people of all ages should be thinking about.
Preventing falls in the bathroom
Many of the tips we’ve shared before are relevant for people of all ages. They include:
- Using non-slip floor mats
- Installing handrails near the tub
- Upgrading your tub or shower to a safer model
When it comes to younger people, there are a few other tips you should follow as well.
Young children should have constant supervision from an adult in the bathroom. A few seconds is all it takes for a young child to slip under the water. Having a sibling with them doesn’t count either unless that sibling is old enough to be giving the child a bath, not just sharing the tub with their brother or sister.
When it comes to adults, avoid drinking right before or during a bath. Relaxing with a glass of wine may sound like a great way to unwind, but having even the slightest impairment to your system can increase the likelihood of slipping, falling, and hitting your head. It should go without saying that drugs of any kind should be avoided before and during a bath.
A medical alert system may be able to help
It’s true that a medical alert system may be able to help. It can send for help automatically if you’re knocked unconscious, but it can’t do everything.
In the case of Sridevi Kapoor, her husband was in the other room when she fell. He went in to check on her after she didn’t come out of the bathroom. He only waited 15 minutes.
A medical alert system would have been great, even though she shared the home with her husband. The alarm would have gone off automatically, alerting her husband of what had happened in the other room. Of course, for seniors who live alone, 15 minutes is a reasonable amount of time to expect emergency personnel to arrive at the door. They wouldn’t have been fast enough.
It’s a painful reminder for us all that it is important to take safety precautions in the bathroom, no matter what your age, whether you have a medical alert device or not.