Question:

How do I make the bathroom as safe and functional as possible for my kids?

Bathroom Safety First: Equipment

Whether your children have their own bathroom or share the family bathroom, there are some steps you should take to make sure that it's a room that is safe for them to use. First, install grab bars in bath and shower stalls, and don't let kids use the existing towel racks or wall-mounted soap dishes as grab bars - they can easily come loose.

If your tub does not already have a textured floor, use a non-slip mat or install adhesive safety decals in bathtubs and showers; you can often find ones that complement your bathroom's decor. Another way to reduce the chance of falls is to choose a bath-mat that has a non-skid bottom.

Safety First: Water and Electricity

You know you should never touch an electrical appliance when you are bathing, and you need to let your kids know that, too. If your kids do have their own bath space, it is wise to keep it free of electrical appliances.

If your family shares bath space, then make sure that all electrical appliances, cords and fixtures in your bathroom listed by an independent testing laboratory such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL), and keep hair dryers, curling irons, electrical razors and other small electrical appliances away from water and unplugged and stored when not in use.

Whether your family shares bathrooms or not, make sure all bathrooms are protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) and test your GFCI monthly to determine that it is operating properly.

Bathroom Safety First: Medicines

If your kids have their own bathroom, it probably makes sense to keep medications and other products like that out of it. If you share a bathroom, make sure that medications, including vitamins, prescription drugs and over-the-counter drugs, have child-resistant caps, and are kept – along with cosmetics and cleaning supplies - in a secure closet.

Keep medicines and cleaning products in their original containers with the original labels intact, and make sure you read and follow product use, storage instructions and safety recommendations. Remind your kids to always ask before using products, and consider keeping tote boxes of kid-safe products that children know are okay for them to use.

Bathroom Safety First: Water Smarts

As you know, you should never leave children unattended near standing water. Always stay within touch supervision of young children – within an arm's reach -- during bath time, and don't leave bath supervision up to your older kids.

To avoid scalding, keep your water heaters at 120 degrees Fahrenheit or less, and double-check the water temperature with a thermometer when bathing young children. The ideal temperature is about 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Jerry Mayo