The Shower Chair Safety Guide

About this Shower Chair Safety Guide

Shower chairs are a type of medical device, that allows users to take baths/showers from a sitting position, hence reducing the risk of falling in the bathroom settings. However, if used incorrectly, it would be just as dangerous, having a shower chair or not.

A list of safety-related guidelines have been laid out in this article, let’s review them together.

Note: This article is a translation from another post. While The Shower Chair Safety Guide is written primarily for readers in Asian countries, most of its content will apply to anyone who uses a shower chair to reduce the risk of falling in the bathing/showering area.

Read the Instructions First!

Physical copies of the owner’s manual must be presented with any assistive medical device sold publicly. The vendor/manufacturer may also publish digital copies on their websites. The manuals must be read to ensure the following:

  • all the parts are present
  • knowing what tools are necessary to complete the assembly
  • functions of different parts and mechanisms and how to operate them

Assemble Your Shower Chair

Check every parts/pieces and make sure there are no visible signs of cracks, deformities or sharp edges. When everything is ready, you can proceed to put it together, but mind the following while making the assembly:

  • parts are lost or missing
  • the product is making abnormal noises when moved. It could mean an incorrect assembly, or maybe there are foreign objects inside
  • the product looked slanted/crooked
  • the product wobbles around
  • parts cannot lock or latch on correctly

If you are having problems with any of the above, proceed to contact the vendor/manufacturer and fix the issue before continuing.

Set the Seat Height Right Away

It is important that you set the seat height immediately to avoid forgetting to do it later. Experts suggested that the seat panel should be set to the center point between the lower buttocks and the back of the knees. Please see a demonstration 7:30 into the video.

source: YouTube video by Taipei Consumer Protection Center
title: shower chairs for the elderly press conference

Try Out Your Shower Chair

Usually, this will be your bath or showering area. We will talk about the actual positioning momentarily. But first, you must ensure that every leg of the shower chair is in firm contact with the floor and it does not rock or wobble. This is important so the rubber tips can grip properly to avoid slippage.

If the shower chair is unstable due to your floor conditions, then it may be a good time to consider that expensive bathroom remodel you’ve always wanted… Because safety is everything.

Now observe the surroundings and position the shower chair close to all the toiletries and things like faucets or showerheads, where the user can reach them conveniently from a sitting position. It is also important to provide a clear path to the exit of the bathing area.

Raise User Awareness About the Safety Concerns

Read this article from start to end. If the shower chair is intended for someone else, then communicate with the user and make sure he/she understands these guidelines before using the product.

I had experienced a few near accidents in the past, from stepping into a tub while the shower is on. It is fortunate that being younger and still having adequate reflex helped me avoiding serious injuries.

Facing similar situations, a shower chair dependant user may not be in an adequate physical state to avoid injuries. Therefore, it is imperative that he/she understands the safety concerns first and try to prevent any dangerous scenarios altogether.

Let’s all remind ourselves of these guidelines before actually using a shower chair.

Preparations

  • Make sure the shower chair is placed in the designated location
  • All the moving parts of the shower chair is locked and secured
  • Required toiletries (or bath toys) are in their proper places
  • The path to and from the exit of the bathing area is free of clutter

Do not move abruptly

If you accidentally dropped something, just let it drop.

DO NOT TRY TO SAVE IT AND RISK FALLING YOURSELF!!!

Pick it up after you’ve finished with your shower or do it after you have stood up from the chair in a safe manner.

Remember that things can break but they are replaceable. You, on the other hand, are not.

Avoid reaching out for things or attempt to shift your seat while sitting

Shifting all your weight to a single side far enough, the shower chair will tip-over. If by some chance that you did not fall over, you could still hurt yourself while regaining balance.

DO NOT ATTEMPT TO GRAB FOR THINGS THAT ARE OUT OF REACH WHILE SITTING!!!

It doesn’t matter what you need to do, if it’s outside of your reach, stand up before doing it. If standing up/sitting down is challenging for you, then consider installing some grab bars along the walls or it could be a good time to consider getting an in-home caregiver.

Precautions to take before sitting down

Always find something sturdy to hold on to or keep balance with before sitting down. This could be the shower chair’s armrests, a wall, grab bars, etc..

Use care and align yourself with the shower chair. Most shower chairs are only between 6 to 8 lbs heavy. So if you sat down too far off-centered, it can easily tip-over.

Keep an appropriate distance between yourself from the edge of the seat is also important, so you do not slide off the edge accidentally.

Precautions to take before standing up

You will also need to hold on to something before standing up.

If you are using a shower chair with armrests, remember to never apply all your weight to just one single side. For example, do not grab one armrest with both hands and attempt to push off to get up that way.

Pay attention to the surrounding floor space around you for anything that may cause you to trip or slip!

Cleaning and Maintenance

The owner’s manual should have a section explaining how to perform maintenance on your shower chair. Generally, you will see the following:

  • neutral detergent and soft scrubbers should be used
  • avoid spray cleaning directly with water-jets
  • wipe off the shower chair every time it is used

These are just common sense, and the minimum requirements. Here are some additional points that are usually missed, even from the manuals:

Additional advice on cleaning

  • rubber tips – they won’t work if they are covered in slime and hair
  • molded panels – the engraved patterns on the surface must be scrubbed
  • underneath the seat – clean regularly to remove residue
  • moving parts – do not ignore the residue that gets stuck at these places
  • trapped moisture – remove the water collected inside the panels or metal tubes
  • move the chair to a location with good air-flow to allow air-dried

Routine checks on parts/components

  • splitting panel seams
  • rubber tips losing elasticity (exhibits cracks or losing grip)
  • rusting hardware
  • worn parts
  • wobbly seat
  • other signs of damage

Conclusion

Shower chairs are meant to keep people from slipping while taking their baths/showers. But one may still get injured if it is not used correctly.

Information shared in this shower chair safety guide is mostly just common sense, and maybe dismissed or even ignored by some. For those of us who cannot risk family members’ safety or the safety of our own should take some time to reflect on the contents of this article and remind ourselves to apply these safety guidelines to our daily bath/shower activities.

I wish everyone stays safe and well.

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