Friday, September 30, 2022

This is a PSA. Safety at Home

Speaking of grab bars and general safety, I thought I'd give you a guided tour.

I have a townhouse with two full and one half bathrooms, and a step down to the living room. Two full flights of stairs.

About eighteen years ago I started installing grab bars. I only use ADA compliant (Americans with Disabilities Act) or your regional equivalent.  They're designed to have the best nonslip knurling, the part you grab, the best engineered distance between wall and bar, the best gasket, and this feature, see below, which I learned about yesterday. 

Don't shop online other than from a medical supplier, because there are loads of bars not engineered this way, not suitable for screwing into tile, no matter what they claim. Bathroom fitting people don't have to have ADA compliant bars. They're more decorative than useful, I think. Anyway a word to the wise. Back to ADA compliant 

See how the screws favor one side? That's to enable at least two to be attached to the stud. The usual wide triangle used for railings is evenly spaced around the plate and it's likely only one screw can attach to a stud. This is vital to know, since a person falling and reaching for a bar can tear it off the wall otherwise.

The reason I originally started way back then installing bars was after Handsome Partner fell in the bathroom, grabbed the towel rail, which tore out of the wall and hit him on the head on the way down. 

Next day I contacted Mike the contractor,  got three bars, one per bathroom, from a medical supplier, and he researched the approved installation needed, and replaced the towel bars with the safety ones.

As you see, on the left they still work as  towel bars. 

Later HP needed an assist to help navigate the step up from the living room to the downstairs bathroom, it's now also a handy parking place near the front door for masks, sunglasses and visitor car tags.

And bars in the shower to enable him to stand up from the shower seat. We measured this to fit his reach. It's on the right of the top picture.

Then stairs became more difficult and I had bars installed on the side where there was no banister rail.

The reason for two bars rather than one long one was that he needed to grip the curve on the upper one to pull himself up. Then the bar at the top gave him the ability to turn onto the step up on the right there. That's the one Mike reinstalled yesterday, higher, to suit me.

More recently I had Mike install this to help me get out of the bathtub in the other bathroom

On the left you see the assist that clamps on the side of the tub which I installed myself.

I kept all the bars in place after Handsome Partner died, figuring sooner or later I'd need them myself.  

Eventually he became quadriplegic, so the bars weren't in use, and I moved on to learn the skills of the Hoyer lift. All these stages enabled us to have a life, and him to be home to the end, as we both wanted. 

Back to the present, I notice that even younger, able people tend to use the bars because they're there. Including a couple of friends who decided to install one near their own sunken living room, after realizing how handy mine in the front hall is, to alert visitors to the step down, averting a dramatic headfirst entrance.

Anyway for what it's worth, this is a tiny fraction of the adaptations we made over time.  In case it's useful knowledge, here it is!

Later today, knitting group, more cheerful!

Also while Mike was here, he the wood lover and worker, geeked out over the darning egg and dibber Joanne gave me. The dibber, he tells me, is white oak, the egg possibly beech. He loved them, handled them for ages after I explained their function, admired the engineering. 

Happy day everyone. Eat chocolate rabbits, stay safe.

It's still all Ukraine no matter what Putin says.


  1. Thanks for the information. With my balance and mobility issues I find this really helpful. Enjoy your time with friends.

  2. I'm so glad it's useful, Sandra.

  3. This has been so helpful!
    Thank you very much.
    And , yes, it is still all Ukraine.

  4. We’ve had one installed in the shower, mostly in case I get that foot surgery.. I haven’t used it yet, but it’s there.

  5. Our very old house has been built onto so many times that the thresholds of rooms are very uneven. My husband has problems navigating them sometimes and I worry so that we'll have to move into a more modern and older-person friendly place at some point.
    But! Needs must, of course.
    He did put a very sturdy railing up by the steps up to the kitchen porch which we both use now because it's there and I am glad of it.

  6. We put ADA-compliant grab bars in our shower stalls and next to the toilet. They make life easier - and possibly longer!

  7. Thank you! Fantastic information!
    Bars are super important to install correctly.
    Towel bar, old landlord asked to put in a safety bar, but never did. It is very scary to slip, and grab a bar that comes at you out of the wall. I make a point to only step out of lousy tub using the one safety bar on the drain end. Present landlord asked, but didn't install a safety bar at the other end.

  8. I had so many grab bars in the old house. I've never seen the like since, including in my current independent living situation.

  9. Excellent post. Mr B's parents house had to be extenisively modified after one parent suffered a stroke. It gets one thinking. A friend of Mum's built a new house and deliberately designed in masses of stuff planning to manage frailty and even dementia for live at home as long as possible in late life. We will be doing the same when we build in NZ in a year or two. Chocolate rabbits? Xxx Mr T and F

  10. Interesting to note the placement of screws on the grab bars and the reason for it. Sent me off on a fact-finding mission to look at ours and they just have 2 screws on each end. Interestingly though, one end of one grab bar has the screws mounted horizontally and on the other end they're vertical.


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