The recent news of the death of Murphy Afolabi, the Nollywood movie star, has highlighted the dangers of slips and falls in the bathroom. Afolabi’s untimely death was attributed to a fall that occurred in his home’s bathroom in Ikorodu, Lagos, on May 14, 2023. Unfortunately, such incidents are not uncommon, as falls in the bathroom are one of the leading causes of injuries and even deaths among older adults. Several other similar incidents have been reported in hospitals and homes.
In one instance, an elderly man suffered four bathroom falls at a hospital in Australia, leading to a broken neck and eventually causing his death. Another example is that of a 75-year-old man who fell in his bathroom and hit his head. Although he survived for several hours, he eventually died from a stroke likely caused by a blocked blood vessel.
According to the National Safety Council, about 80% of falls that occur in the home happen in the bathroom. The Australian study found that these bathroom falls, were the most common cause of injury among people aged 65 years and older, children and middle aged are not exceptions. In addition, a study published in the Journal of Safety Research found that 56% injuries from falls among older adults occurred in the bathroom, and a lot has lost their lives from this incident.
Preventing falls in the bathroom requires a combination of safety measures. One of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of falls is by installing grab bars or handrails in strategic locations. These safety devices provide support when stepping in and out of the bathtub or shower stall and help individuals get up and down from the toilet seat safely.
Another crucial safety measure is using non-slip mats in the shower or bathtub to prevent slips and falls when the floor is wet. Also, it is essential to use appropriate bathroom floor materials that offer slip-resistant properties. One of the most common materials used for bathroom floors is ceramic tiles. While they are attractive, they can also be slippery, particularly when wet. This is why it is crucial to choose non-slip tiles that offer excellent traction. There are several types of non-slip tiles available in the market, including textured tiles, matte-finish tiles, and porcelain tiles with micro-ridges. These types of tiles provide excellent slip resistance and can help prevent falls in the bathroom.
Another option for bathroom floors is vinyl flooring. Vinyl is an affordable and durable material that is water-resistant and easy to clean. It also offers excellent slip resistance, making it a great choice for bathroom floors. Moreover, it comes in a variety of styles and designs, allowing homeowners to customize their bathrooms according to their preferences and also staying safe from slips and falls in the process.
It is also essential to encourage regular exercise to improve flexibility, balance, and strength. Exercise programs such as yoga, Tai Chi, and water aerobics can help improve muscle strength, coordination, and flexibility, reducing the risk of falls.
Furthermore, it is necessary to use appropriate materials in bathroom design. Using slip-resistant floor tiles with a matte finish can help prevent slips and falls. Also, choosing rounded edges for countertops and choosing fixtures with smooth surfaces reduces the risk of injuries from sharp edges.
In conclusion, preventing falls in the bathroom requires a combination of safety measures, including the installation of safety devices, regular exercise, and careful bathroom design. As shown by the unfortunate incidents reported, slips and falls in the bathroom can lead to severe injuries or even death. Therefore, everyone must take this issue seriously and adopt preventive measures to avoid such accidents.
This is why AfriSafe is about raising awareness on safety and promoting a culture of safety in Africa. By educating individuals and organizations on the importance of safety, AfriSafe aims to reduce workplace accidents and create safer environments for everyone.