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Former Train bassist Charlie Colin, 58, died after slipping in the shower. Here’s why experts say bathrooms are uniquely hazardous places.

In World
May 24, 2024

Charlie Colin, former bassist for the band Train, died after falling in the bathroom of a friend’s home where he was house-sitting. He was 58.

Colin’s cause of death is shocking, but bathroom injuries are fairly common. According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 234,000 people went to the emergency room for non-fatal injuries related to bathrooms in 2008. Most of these bathroom injuries were related to the bathtub or shower area.

Though the CDC reported on non-fatal accidents in the bathroom, falls can be fatal, particularly in the case of older adults. In 2021, the CDC reported that between 2020 and 2021, 38,742 adults 65 and older died as a result of unintentional falls. However, all ages, especially those 41 to 60 years old, are susceptible to falls in the bathroom, according to a 2018 study.

“It is important to understand that the risk of falling in the bathroom isn’t limited to the elderly,” Brittany Ferri, an occupational therapist with the National Council on Aging, tells Yahoo Life — with Colin’s death tragically proving that point. “People of all ages should be careful and aware of the potential dangers,” she continues. “It’s a reminder that anyone can benefit from taking precautions to prevent falls, regardless of age or health status.”

Ferri says that health factors such as low blood sugar, poor vision, dizziness or medication side effects can increase the chances of falling.

However, bathrooms, in general, are particularly hazardous places in the home. The room itself has falling risk factors, such as:

  • Slippery, wet floors

  • Hard surfaces without carpet, such as tile

  • Lack of grab bars or places to steady oneself

  • The presence of immovable fixtures that create obstacles

  • Poor lighting

  • Loose bath mats or rugs

Bathrooms also tend to be smaller rooms in the home, which can make maneuvering around them more difficult. This could more easily lead to tripping (particularly in cluttered areas) and falling. People may also be more likely to injure themselves by hitting their head on a sink or counter.

Amanda Joy, a physician assistant and associate medical director of MedStar Health Urgent Care, tells Yahoo Life that there are also times in the bathroom when you may quickly change position, which can cause a sudden drop in blood pressure that leads to lightheadedness or even fainting. That could come from picking something up in the tub, or standing up from the toilet. Showering in extremely hot water can also cause this blood pressure change, she says

Joy says you can prevent falls by:

  • using a non-slip bath mat both inside and outside of the tub or shower

  • using night lights to increase visibility

  • cleaning up any puddles or condensation on the floor right away

  • keeping bathing products higher up in the tub or shower to prevent the need to bend over

  • removing fall or tripping hazards like clothing or towels from the floor

“If older adults are in the household, you can install grab bars by the toilet or near the shower,” Joy says. “It’s also good to make sure your bathroom door swings outward, in case you do fall, so that you do not block the entrance for those arriving to help you.”

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