8 Ways to Prevent Falls in the Shower

Gemma Johnstone
Written by Gemma Johnstone
Updated December 8, 2021
A modern elegant bathroom with a minimal shower
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Your shower doesn't have to be an accident waiting to happen

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A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that over 230,000 people ended up in the emergency room with bathroom-related injuries—with the highest rates being in or around the tub or shower.

It’s no surprise when you consider the combination of smooth and hard surfaces, moisture, and soap all in a confined space—and it’s a particular problem for older adults and those with mobility issues.

But there are lots of simple steps you can take to make your shower space safer. Check out these eight fall-prevention ideas for bathroom showers.

1. Fit Grab Bars

Using a grab bar to enter and exit a slippery shower gives additional stability—particularly when you have to climb into a bath-mounted shower space. Grab bars can also reduce the impact of a fall, as you have something to grab hold of on the way down—unlike that flimsy soap rack you might have tried to grab the last time you fell!

Because grab bars come in such a wide range of sizes and styles, choose one that suits your shower set-up and design.

2. Create a Non-Slip Surface

Some showers already have a non-slip texture on the floor tiles or shower tray. If you don’t have this, an easy and inexpensive fall-prevention idea is to invest in a bath mat or some anti-slip spray or decals. Quality matters—some bath mats have better suckers than others, and not all decals will remain firmly attached for prolonged periods.

Regularly clean your bath mats, too. If there’s a buildup of soap scum or mildew, this isn’t just unhygienic—the suckers might not attach fully and the mat could slip.

3. Have Toiletries Within Easy Reach

Towels hanging by the shower
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Over-exertion and stretching to reach your towel or other toiletries are common contributors to shower slips. An easy fix: having all the essential items in easy reach to reduce the risk of a fall. Position towel hooks or rails close to the shower and have toiletry shelves or caddies within easy arm’s reach in the shower.

4. Use a Wall-Attached Soap or Shampoo Dispenser

Installing a soap dispenser beside your shower head is another way to minimize stretching that causes slips. Plus, you don’t have to fiddle around with awkward bottle lids. Just watch out for extra drips falling to the shower floor from the dispenser, as this makes the surface more slippy.

5. Consider a Shower Chair

For issues with balance or mobility, using a chair in a walk-in shower is a great way to mitigate falls and shower comfortably. These portable chairs have rubber feet or wheel brakes and a hole in the seat, making bathing safer and easier.

6. Walk-In Showers

A walk-in shower with black tiles
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Falls are common when people are stepping in and out of high sided, sloping bathtubs. Walk-in showers remove this hazard and are ideal for those with limited mobility. You can easily roll shower chairs in and out, and they’re easier to clean too—no more crouching over the sides of the tub to scrub.

7. Regularly Clean Away Soap Residue

Soap residue buildup not only increases the chance of bacteria and mildew forming in your shower, but also makes the surface more slippy. Weekly thorough shower and bathtub cleaning is better for hygiene and personal safety.

8. Install an Adjustable or Hand-Held Showerhead

Minimizing movement reduces the chance of a fall, so fitting an adjustable or hand-held showerhead is ideal if you use a shower chair or have mobility challenges. Hand-held types are also helpful for tasks such as shaving legs, bathing pets or kids, and rinsing off soapy residue.

Other Bathroom Fall Prevention Measures

Because falls are common in other areas of the bathroom, not just the shower, below are some other ideas for mitigating the risks:

  • Keep your bathroom dry: Wiping up excess water that spills on the floor reduces the likelihood of a slip and fall.

  • Lighting: Dimly lit bathrooms increase the chances of a fall. Install brighter lighting and consider using an illuminated light switch to make it easier to turn on the light at night.

  • Area rugs: Floor mats are a trip hazard and can slip over smooth bathroom floors. If you want to use them, ensure they have a slip-resistant backing or secure them with tape.

  • Walk-In tubs: If you don’t want to ditch the tub in favor of a walk-in shower, you could install a walk-in bath instead. These have doors on the side of the tub wall that open and close, so you don’t have to step over the high side. Once the door closes, the bath is completely watertight.

  • Remove bathroom clutter: Keep the floor of your bathroom clear. In these smaller spaces, this will significantly reduce the chance of a trip and fall.

  • Use a raised toilet seat: For those with limited mobility, using a raised toilet seat makes it easier to get up and down and prevents the type of over-exertion that increases the chance of a fall.

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