Home Health & Food Use slip-resistant tiles to avert deadly bathroom falls – Safety experts

Use slip-resistant tiles to avert deadly bathroom falls – Safety experts

by James Davies

Angela Onwuzoo

Public health experts have advised Nigerians to carry out risk assessments of their homes and use slip-resistant tiles to avert deadly bathroom falls and their potential health risks.

They also said people should prioritize life before luxury and remove hazardous objects around their homes that could predispose them to danger during an emergency.

The physicians spoke exclusively to PUNCH Healthwise against the backdrop of the death of popular Yoruba actor and filmmaker, Murphy Afolabi.
The nollywood thespian reportedly fell in his bathroom at his home in Ikorodu, Lagos, in the wee hours of Sunday, May 14, 2023, and subsequently, passed away.

The death of the Osun State indigene threw the entertainment industry into deep mourning.
Afolabi, a father of three, two boys, and one girl, got into the movie industry in 2001, and was a respected figure in the Yoruba film industry.

He was born on May 5, 1974, and clocked 49 years old in 2023.

In an interview with our correspondent, a Public Health Physician, Dr. Festus Adetonwa, said anything that can be a source of danger in the house should be removed.
He said bathroom falls could also be caused by negligence in structural design or some not well done finishing works in the house.

Dr. Adetonwa, who is the Head of Occupational Health and Safety Unit, Ogun State Ministry of Health said, “ From the perspective of public health and as an occupational health physician,  we need to look at the risks and some preventive measures.
“We call them hazards. There are some physical hazards that we have to look out for in the house. Hazard is not only limited to our workplace, it extends to our homes.
“I have seen instances of people collapsing in the church, mosque or in a party because they choked on what they ate, and the basic steps that should have been taken were jettisoned.”

“So, one of the things that we want to look at is the type of tiles in our bathrooms. It is not expected that you should put the same type of tiles you have in your living room in the bathroom.
“The type of tiles you use in your bathroom should not be the slippery and shiny ones because a lot could happen while using such tiles.”

According to Dr. Adetonwa, this is because apart from a person falling and hitting his head on the floor, there is the danger of having fractures.

“The legs can break, the ankle can be twisted and this can lead to permanent disability if the person survives it. And, if somebody falls in the bathroom and hits his head against a hard object, there could be a haemorrhage and rupture of any of the vessels in the head.
“ There are some designs in the bathroom that are risky. They are hazards that people need to be very cautious of,” he said.

On how to be safety conscious, Dr. Adetonwa said there are effective ways people prevent hazards at home, especially in the bathrooms.
He said, “There is what we call hierarchy or level of control.  Can these hazards that you have identified as being dangerous to you and your family members at home be totally removed? That is elimination. It is not about luxury now; it is luxury versus life now.
“Anything that is a source of danger in the house should be removed. So, we must prioritise life. A lot of people, if you go to their bathrooms, you see all these shiny tiles, classical tiles just for the purpose of design.

Continuing, he said, “The tiles can be changed to one that will not be too slippery or can be substituted if you don’t know what to remove. There are some homes where you will not see tiles in their bathrooms because they have seen instances like this. We need to keep learning every day.  We need to keep on making necessary changes that will save our lives by putting into consideration the type of tiles to put in the house. They have to be those that children and adults can tolerate.”

Highlighting what to do when someone falls in the bathroom, the safety expert said the first thing is to take the person to the nearest hospital for medical intervention.
He advised that people should read and get informed about physical and home hazards and to remove dangerous objects around the house.
“We should have the ability to carry out risk assessment within the house we live in. Once potential hazards are identified, measures should be taken to have them removed or addressed”, Dr. Adetonwa said.
A Senior Lecturer at the Department of Physiotherapy, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Dr. Chris Okafor, told our correspondent that awareness was needed to sensitize people on the importance of safety in homes and the environment generally.

In a report published  on the website of the United States National Institutes of Health, titled, ‘Preventing Falls at Home: Room by Room’, the authors said  many falls happen at home, “where we spend much of our time and tend to move around without thinking about our safety.”
They recommended, “There are many changes you can make to your home that will help prevent falls and better ensure your safety. Mount grab bars near toilets and on both the inside and outside of your tub and shower.
“Place non-skid mats, strips, or carpet on all surfaces that may get wet. Remember to leave a light on in the bathroom at night or use a night light that turns on automatically in the dark.”


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