By Lynn Ashby 28 Dec. 2015
THE SHOWER – I wrap a towel around me, then very slowly I grab hold of the shower knob, then the door frame, and stick one small toe onto the rug on the floor outside the stall. Then the entire foot. Whew! Made it so far. Next step, literally, is to move the other foot from the shower stall to … OK, you are no doubt wondering why it is taking me 10 minutes to get out of the shower. Shows what you know. A person could get killed, or at least badly injured, by simply standing in a shower or trying to get out of one. Like me. Zo let me save you a lot grief, pain and outright humiliation.
Last summer my wife and I went to the Hill Country to watch, our granddaughter finish her term at Camp Waldemar. She’s a fourth generation Waldermarite, and by now I know this end-of-camp program is a big deal. Friday night, before the Saturday festivities, which my wife has been looking forward to since last summer, I am in our room at a Kerrville motel taking a shower so I’ll be clean the next day in my tux. Standing as still as a line at a customs counter, I suddenly slip backwards and land on the bottom of the tub – it’s one of those shower-bath combos. Blam! My back left side hits the porcelain hard. So there I am, lying in on the floor of the shower, dressed the way God made me — and a wonderful job he did, I might say — with the water pouring on me, numb, unable to move.
“Is that you? What happened?” my wife asks from the next room. How to reply? “I did a two and a half gainer into the soap dish. Got a perfect 10.” Or: “You won’t believe this. Did you ever see ‘Splash’?” Maybe: “No, it’s Diogenes, looking for an honest presidential candidate.” Better not, because this is no time to smart off. I need help. Since then I have been very careful in the shower. Have you ever slipped while showering, or tripped getting in or out of the tub? Don’t feel alone. Here are some figures which are occasionally overlapping:
- Unintentional injuries in all places result in an average of 21 million medical visits each year.
- More than 18,000 individuals in the United States die annually from home-related accidents. That comes to about $220 billion in medical costs.
- Slips and falls, often in the bathroom, account for about 5.1 million injuries a year, while scalding causes as many as 60,000.
- According to the Home Safety Council, home accidents cause 20,000 deaths in the United States annually. Compare that with 742 deaths from plane crashes, 0.5 from shark attacks, and 70 from being struck by lightning.
By any count, it is dangerous to live in your house, but if you must, stay away from the bathroom. You may never get out alive. At this point, you could be wondering, as I do, who gathers these stats and how? Does someone from the Home Safety Council (I’m sure it’s a very good agency, but I never heard of it) go to every morgue, with a clipboard and ask, “Did he slip in the shower?” “No, he was in the shower, all right, with the water on high, blow drying his hair.” To compare their causes of death, are the number of shark attacks counted, and exactly whom is interviewed – the sharks or the lifeguards? As for being struck by lightning, I suppose statisticians check with the Lightning Victims Lawyers Association.
The solution: Install a grab bar, or several. on the sides of the shower stall, on the shower head itself, and don’t forget the soap dish. Five bars minimum. There is the easy way to install the kind that just stick to the walls with a suction cup. They can withstand a pull force of up to 10 pounds. I suggest you get the grab bars that require several Molly bolts, a welding torch and two licensed handymen to install.
Notice how I step out of the shower onto a bathmat that doesn’t move. A small but major exercise in safety is to make sure your bathmat stays still when you step on it. Some 13,000 people die every hour by slipping on bathmats. OK, I made that up, but it sounds as good as some of these other statistics. To keep your bathmat from becoming a flying carpet, only use one with a rubber bottom and doesn’t slide. This one is also glued to the floor, then I hammered 5-inch nails in at each corner. This mat hasn’t moved since I installed it three months ago. I guess it could use a wash. Another hint: clean up any water that splashes on floors right away. This can be done by bringing in a starving dog.
Other tips: Wearing a football helmet while showering helps, although the NFL says concussions are an urban legend. You can cut down on instances of slipping by refraining from using soap. Also, there is something to be said for showering only on an annual basis. One more point. Later I asked my son and daughter-in-law, both attorneys, the one medical question anyone askes in such a state: “Can I sue?’ They replied together: “Was there a rubber mat for the shower, the no-slip kind, and if, so, did you use it? If not, no suit.” No million-dollar lawsuit. So always use that dirty rubber bathmat rolled up by the side of the tub.
You may be wondering: “Whatever happened to you after the fall?” The next morning, in great agony, my son’s family – they were on their way to the camp closing – loaded me in the car and my wife drove me to a hospital. She never did get to attend the Camp Waldemar closing. Maybe I can sue Diogenes,
Ashby is all wet at firstname.lastname@example.org