Bath mat safety
There are several hundred accidents in showers and baths each year in the UK. Slips can be very dangerous, even fatal. Older people are particularly at risk and often have a bath mat to prevent slips – but not all bath mats do the job, as Trading Standards Officer, Andrew Abercrombie explains.
Aren’t all bath mats similar?
No – different manufacturers use different materials and designs. Some bath mats offer really good grip, but others don’t. In fact some mats are more slippery than the bath surface would be without a mat! Some manufacturers do test their mats, but until recently, all the tests were completely different.
So how can you tell whether a mat is safe?
There is now a new British Standard, BS 8445:2012, to look out for on the packaging. Hampshire Trading Standards alerted the British Standards Institution (BSI) that a standard was needed, and then got involved in the work to develop an appropriate test. It was quite a challenge to make a realistic test that can be repeated in different laboratories.
Is it just older people who need bath and shower mats?
It’s a good idea to get a mat if you feel the surface of your shower or bath is slippery. BS 8445:2012 has two standards – ‘comfort’ and ‘slip resistant’. A mat meeting either of these standards will offer more grip than the surface of the bath or shower tray. The higher standard, ‘slip resistant’, is recommended for people who feel more vulnerable on a slippery surface.
Tips for bath mat safety
- Look for BS 8445:2012 on the packaging to be sure the mat has passed a rigorous test.
- Buy the right size mat for your bath or shower tray. If it is too big and curls up at the sides, it will be dangerous.
- Buy a mat that comes rolled, rather than folded, as it will offer a flatter surface.
- Ensure the bath is clean before fitting the mat.
- Always step onto the middle of the mat, not the edges.
- Keep your mat clean. Regularly clean both sides of it, and the bath surface.
- Don’t keep your mat too long. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations as to its lifespan. If it becomes damaged, replace it.
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