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Water, Water Everywhere—But Not Near Electricity

Take steps to keep bathrooms free of hazards

During summer months, you’re likely to take more showers than usual since there’s more swimming, sports and yardwork going on. That makes it a good time to make sure your bathroom is a safe place.

The bathroom is one of the few places in the home where electrical appliances and water have a great chance to meet—and a great chance to cause electrical shock or death. If you have kids, the bathroom can be a room of hazards, electrical or otherwise, waiting to happen.

But it doesn’t have to be. Try these tips to dampen the danger:

  • All power outlets in the bathroom should be equipped with ground-fault circuit interrupters, which can sense when an electric current is improperly grounding and automatically shut down the power, potentially preventing a nasty shock.
  • Use a bathmat with a nonskid bottom and use a nonslip mat or decals on the floor of the tub.
  • Keep medications and vitamins in their original containers to avoid confusion, and always choose child-resistant caps. Keep medications and cleaning supplies locked away if there are small children in the home.
  • Make a storage space under the counter and out of the way for hair dryers, curling irons and other electrical appliances that could be hazardous with water contact. Educate children on the dangers of mixing water and electricity.
  • Never handle electrical appliances when your hands are wet or you are standing in water.
  • Any exposed or frayed wiring in the bathroom—and anywhere else inside or outside your home—should be addressed and repaired immediately.
  • Check the temperature of bathwater and turn the tap off before putting children in the tub. Tap water can instantly scald if it is too hot. Lower the temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees to guard against burns, but keep bathwater at 100 degrees or lower. Also, never leave children unattended during bath time.
  • If you have toddlers, use toilet seat locks to prevent drowning.
  • Use only electrical appliances and cords that bear the label of an independent testing laboratory, such as UL.