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Gadgets for your bathroom
The bathroom is potentially the most hazardous room in the home, says Arati Rajan Menon. But simple modifications can transform it into a safe zone
On average, a person spends about an hour a day in the bathroom. That's about three years of your life! It's the room where your day begins and ends. It's also the most potentially hazardous room in the home-one of the leading causes of accidents for silvers is falls in bathrooms. It's possible, though, with just a few modifications to make your bathroom a safer place.
Grab bars help you get on and off the toilet, help you stand up and keep steady in the shower, and keep you from slipping on wet tile. Wall-mounted ones are the most stable. They attach to the wall at both ends and you can position them how you want. Some attach to the wall at one end, connecting to a hinge. When you're not using them, they fall back. Sheltering-arm grab bars provide the best support. These come around both sides of the toilet and look like the armrests on a chair.
You can get imported grab bars at bathroom retail stores or get them made from a local fabricator at a fraction of the price in brass or steel. Remember that they need to be strong enough-ideally, they need to support up to 115 kg-and your wall needs to be strong enough to support them. They also need to be screwed in securely. A bar that has a textured surface will be easier to grip. You should also leave enough space between the grab bar and the wall to fit your fist in.
Slippery flooring is a major bathroom hazard. Fortunately, there are a variety of low-maintenance anti-skid tiles available. Prices for branded anti-skid tiles, Indian and imported, range from Rs 100 to Rs 300 per sq ft. You can shop around for Chinese imports or tiles from small-scale companies-they will be cheaper but their lifespan suspect. Non-slip rubber bath mats with suction cups are also a great idea in wet areas. They won't slide off the floor, making them secure to stand on while you're bathing or even brushing your teeth. These are widely available and prices start at Rs 300.
Getting on and off a low toilet is hard on the legs, knees and back. A silver-friendly toilet should sit at least 17 inches from the floor. If you don't want to install a new toilet, you can ask your plumber to put a small platform under your existing one in case of a floor-mounted toilet. Wall-mounted toilets can be easily placed higher on the wall, with minor plumbing modifications. You can also buy a seat that raises the height of your toilet. Make sure it is well attached so that it doesn't slip when someone sits down.
Some people have trouble reaching certain areas of their body, which makes it hard for them to clean themselves after they use the toilet. A hygiene or jet spray hooked up to the wall or the back of the toilet-which can be installed for as little as Rs 1,300-is a great solution, and eliminates the need for a bucket and mug or toilet paper. The bidet-a fixture similar in design to a toilet for bathing private parts-is becoming very popular too. Prices start at Rs 2,000. There are also imported bidet seats available that fit on top of your toilet and can be programmed through a console to wash and air dry. These would set you back at least Rs 30,000.
Rather than relying on the traditional mug and bucket or an overhead shower that pelts water down on you, a hand-held shower makes bathing more pleasant. You can sit down comfortably, yet enjoy a continuous water flow. It should be mounted securely at a level that is easy to reach. Prices begin at Rs 2,500.
Install a shower seat that attaches securely to the wall to make bathing more comfortable. If you have a small bathroom, you can opt for one that folds back when not in use. These cost about Rs 2,000.
Sinks and storage
Any standard sink with a rounded edge is safe for silvers. Just make sure there are no cabinets built below it. They make access difficult, especially for people on a wheelchair. Keep a counter next to the sink and in the bathing area for easy access to toiletries. Keep all storage shelves in the bathroom at eye-level. And use pull handles instead of knobs for drawers so that they slide open with ease.
Choose faucets with lever handles rather than knobs, which are hard to turn, especially if you suffer from arthritis. And pick one handle to turn on the tap, not two-you can turn on both the hot and cold water with one hand. Prices range from Rs 1,500 to Rs 5,000. Motion-sensing taps that turn on the water when you put your hands under the faucet and turn it off when you pull your hands away will set you back Rs 10,000. There are also imported anti-scald devices available that ensure you don't get burned where a thermostat sets the required temperature of hot water. If the cold water fails, the system shuts off. The price is a turn-off though-Rs 30,000.
Help at hand
There are other little things you can do to ensure your safety. A telephone extension can prove invaluable if you slip and fall, or if the lock of the bathroom gets jammed. Install a phone near your shower or toilet; hang it low so you can reach it even if you are on the floor. Another idea is to install two-way locks so that someone can unlock the door from outside in case of an emergency. It comes in handy when your grandchildren come to visit too.
With inputs by Viral Shah, Partner, C Bhogilal & Co, Fort, Mumbai, a bathroom solutions provider
Featured in Harmony Magazine