When we do think about bathtub safety, we tend to focus on children. Historically this may be fair. Most bathtub deaths involved kids under age four left unsupervised in the tub, sometimes only for a moment. However, the recent data found 10 of the 12 reported deaths (83 per cent) involved people over age five. About half were either on medication or had medical conditions, such as epilepsy. From data collected across the country, Alberta was the only province to report any bathtub drownings in 2008.
Your bathroom can pose a danger. Although a tub is standard in most homes, it can still be a hazard. Anyone with a medical issue or disability may need more supervision than a healthy adult or child. This can be difficult for a teen or adult wanting to shower or bathe alone. Constant supervision is sometimes necessary for safety and well being. Modesty may have to take second place to safety, which always comes first.
Many parents don’t realize their child could drown in as little as an inch and a half (four cm) of water, enough to cover the mouth and nose. It’s easy to be distracted by a ringing phone or something happening outside of the room. Ask someone else to take care of diversions while you watch your child in the tub. An older sibling can never substitute for adult supervision.
While anyone can slip in the bath, risk increases for those who are elderly or have disabilities. Installing a shower seat and appropriate hand railing fixtures makes getting in and out of the bath or shower easier. Towel racks and fixtures such as sliding glass doors are not safe to grab. They are not designed to bear weight. Since bathroom floors can be slippery, keep a proper bath mat in place. Seniors should shower or bathe when someone else is home. If help is needed, it will be close by. Anyone on medication should be especially careful.
Epilepsy, also called seizure disorder, affects the body’s nervous system. The term covers a wide variety of disturbances in consciousness. Seizures can range from barely noticeable sensations or interruptions in normal thought, feeling or behaviour, to severe convulsions. Although epilepsy can affect people of all ages, most cases are diagnosed at an early age.
For someone with epilepsy, being in water is dangerous. A tonic-clonic (or grand mal) seizure involves two phases. In the tonic phase, the body becomes rigid as the muscles contract. In the clonic phase, muscles contract and relax. Someone having a tonic-clonic seizure can slip under the water and drown in a minute or two. This can happen silently. It is crucial that the head be raised above water before the clonic phase.
Epilepsy affects people differently. Those with uncontrolled seizures should be especially careful. Making changes to the bathroom environment can help maintain safety.
Although it is easy to think of bathtub safety as something that only applies to children, accidents can happen to anyone. Be aware of the potential hazards water can present.