We spend a lot of our lives in the bathroom pruning, cleaning, and preparing ourselves and our families for the outside world. Sometimes the places that are most familiar to us are the places where the most accidents can happen. So here are some tips for protecting you and your loved ones against some potential bath time dangers which you may not have considered before…

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1. Timber!

Slips and falls in the bath can pose a serious health hazard, and yet are often overlooked as being ‘just one those things’. However, there are measures we can take to safeguard ourselves against potentially disastrous falls in this slippery environment.

Children under the age of 5 and the elderly are particularly prone to such injuries. So alongside constant vigilance, the use of rubber mats, padding protruding objects and adding handles to areas where slippage is likely – like the wall alongside the shower – are just some simple ways that you can prevent such accidents from occurring.

2. The crafty cotton swab

That’s right; these tiny, innocuous looking items can pose a serious risk to your health. A recent study found a direct link between the application of cotton swabs to the ear, and ruptured ear drums.

So what to do? Well, according to the professionals: just don’t use them! Wax plays an essential role in protecting our ears after all. Furthermore, swabs can introduce bacteria into the ear, which then causes infection so you are causing yourself more harm than good. If you are ever worried about how much wax your ears produce, over-the-counter treatments are available and of course your doctor can help too.

3. Mould, mould, go away…

Some days there’s nothing better than a long, steaming hot shower. However, along with peace and tranquility, showers also provide the ideal environment for mould to develop. This can cause real problems for people with respiratory problems like asthma, as well as giving your bathroom walls a gruesome makeover.

The kind of mould found in homes that can bring about asthma is called stachybotrys — a black, sticky, slimy fungus. Nevertheless, not being able to see it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not there. In the right environment mould spores can grow within 48 hours. Symptoms of exposure to this kind of mould include nausea, recurring headaches and asthma-like symptoms.

There are things you can do however to prevent its on-set; for example, having the bathroom door partly open whilst showering. You can also run an exhaust fan both whilst washing and for a further 20 minutes after that. No moisture, no mould. So remember: ventilate, ventilate, ventilate!

4. Strawberry shampoo doesn’t taste as good as it smells

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There is a much greater understanding now than there used to be about the potentially harmful substances in some shampoo bottles. A report released in March 2009 for example, highlighted the frequent use of the chemicals formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane in hair products, both of which have been linked to cancer and a number of skin conditions.

Generally the main purpose of such additions is to prolong the life of the product. However it’s clear that a greater effort needs to be made to eradicate these substances from use in cosmetics. It’s clear that some improvements have been made, particularly with the recent surge in popularity of the natural products industry. So whenever you change shampoo, always check what it says on the bottle.

5. Splash!

Despite what many might think, in general the toilet is a shining example of cleanliness, due to the fact that most toilets are regularly disinfected. It is what the toilet projects onto the world around it that we are concerned about here.

Every time you flush, a spray of water droplets is produced. Contained within these droplets are bacteria that generate e-coli. When the lid is left up during the flush, such bacteria will be dispersed onto anything within close proximity, such as toothbrushes, hand towels and bars of soap. Not a nice thought.

In this case the solution couldn’t be simpler: put a lid on it!Bonus tip: By the way, do you know the most dangerous thing in the house? You often come into contact with it after leaving the bathroom… it’s a pair of trousers. They cause more accidents than anything else. Always put your trousers on while sitting on something, not standing up!

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Laura O’Sullivan is a Program Coach and the UK Office Manager for Oxford Learning Solutions (OLS). OLS publishes the Easyread System, an online phonics course specifically developed to help kids with dyslexia, auditory processing disorder and highly visual learning styles reach their full literacy potential. Easyread provides support for spelling and reading problems through short, daily online lessons that use Guided Phonetic Reading. Find out more at www.easyreadsystem.com