This January is Bath Safety month, reminding you to take some extra precautions and save yourselves from home injuries. Bathing is such a routine activity that we often neglect to take proper precautions while we’re in what is absolutely one of the most dangerous places in our homes. But there are a lot of things we can do to minimize the risk of injury in the bath. And many of these precautions are especially important for the very young and the very old. Safety bars — or grab handles — and non-slip mats inside the tub or shower are just two of the most effective — and most common — ways to stay safe in our soapy havens. Let’s look at a few more — in honor of National Bath Safety Month, which takes place every January.
History of National Bath Safety Month
Before Ancient Greece, in prehistoric times, the sea and rivers served as the most raw and original form of a bath. The oldest accountable daily ritual of bathing can be traced to the ancient Indians. They used elaborate practices for personal hygiene with three daily baths and washing. These are recorded in the works called grihya sutras and are in practice today in some communities. As communities formed in the ancient world, public baths became the main form of bathing, largely because many didn’t have access to private bathing facilities. The Great Bath of Mohenjo, daro is one of the earliest public baths in history. Located in Sindh, Pakistan, the bath dates back to the ancient Indus Valley Civilization — one of the three oldest human civilizations, next to ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia.
“Showers” in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia involved rich people having private rooms in which servants poured cold water out of jugs over them, but the ancient Greeks were really the first to pioneer what we now consider the modern shower. The first showers where water actually flowed through a pipe were originally developed by ancient Greeks. The Romans expanded on this pipe system creating their famous aqueducts that provided indoor plumbing and bath houses with water. These public bathhouses were virtually the first spas, fully equipped with massages, exercise, and entertainment.
By the early twentieth century, personal cleanliness became a greater concern. Growing awareness of germs inspired new advice on bathing to remove “invisible dirt” which caused disease. Meanwhile, industrial production techniques made tubs cheaper, and warm baths became more acceptable as a means of comfort and relaxation.
National Bath Safety Month timeline
Check out this splashy new invention
Englishman William Feetham patents the first mechanical shower, which is
operated by a hand pump.
- AD 60
Epitome of Rome
The Aquae Sulis, dedicated to the goddess of water, rose as one of the largest and most sought out Roman baths outside the Italian peninsula.
- 312 BC
Ancient Romans build aqueducts
The Roman Empire constructs its first aqueduct. A few hundred years later, 11 are in place to supply water for public baths.
- 2500 BC
The Ancients bathe in natural bodies of water
This includes seas and waterfalls. The Great Bath of Mohenjo-daro in Pakistan is considered one of the earliest public baths in the world.
- 3100 BC
Ancient, relaxing showers (for the wealthy)
Historians report that members of the upper classes in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia had indoor showers, whereby water was toted to a bath area and servants would pour the water directly onto them.
National Bath Safety Month FAQs
How do you get injured in the shower?
The most common mechanisms of bathtub and shower-related injuries are slips and falls, hot-water scalds, and submersions.
How many people die from using the bathtub?
According to a report by the agency, 4,866 people drowned to death in a bathtub in 2014, up from 2,870 in 2004.
Are showers cleaner than baths?
According to Hygiene Expert, showers are better than baths only when you’re dirty or sweaty from being outdoors or exercising. If you’re just washing off from a normal day, a bath will get you just as clean as a shower. Plus, the steam from a bath can open up your pores and release the dirt.
How to Observe National Bath Safety Month
Install no-slip mats in the bath
These are low-cost — but absolutely necessary — additions to the bath. They're a simple solution that helps prevent slips in the tub. And put small no-slip rugs outside the bath, too.
Safety (handles) first
Install a couple of safety handles in the bath and near the toilet to prevent slips and falls and to assist those who need it from entering and exiting the tub or shower. They're also a good idea for helping those who have difficulty standing up from the toilet.
Childproof the bathroom
Make sure items intended for adults — sharp razors, clippers, tweezers — are kept safely stored in the bathroom and away from curious hands of little ones.
5 Fun Facts About Baths
Soaking: Feels good — and it's good for you
Studies show that soaking in a hot bath soothes muscle aches, lowers blood pressure, and helps us get a good night's sleep.
The sweet truth about hot baths
Some studies seem to indicate that a hot bath can lower blood sugar for type 2 diabetics.
It's a bath bonanza
The Baths of Caracalla in Rome were built in the third century AD and could hold up to 1,600 bathers at once.
Water, water everywhere
Most Americans use between 80 and 100 gallons of water per day — and the average American family uses about 300 gallons.
The National Institute on Aging reports that 80 percent of falls suffered by those aged 65 and older occur in the bathroom.
Why National Bath Safety Month is Important
It reminds us to protect those we love
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports an alarming stat: drowning remains a leading cause of death — while infants and adults older than 85 are most likely to drown in a bathtub.
Knowledge is power
Protecting ourselves and those we love begins by learning the facts. National Bath Safety Month inspires us to seek them out. (And you came to the right place for that!)
Better safe than sorry
It may seem like too much trouble to retrofit the bath in order to protect ourselves and others from what may seem like a rare occurrence. Unfortunately, those sound like famous last words.
National Bath Safety Month dates