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Break It To Me Gently: Are Glass Shower Doors Safe For Children?

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No one blames you for wanting one of those sleek glass shower enclosures that you've swooned over in hotel suites and envied in friends' master bathrooms. The installation of a frameless shower door instantly seems to double the visual size of smaller bathrooms. In larger bathrooms, the effect can make the room seem vast and lavish.

But how safe are they for your kids? You've heard some of the stories and it makes you really anxious about choosing glass for your home's shower. Here's what you need to know:

When it comes to bathroom injuries, the toilet has glass doors beat.

It is true that the Consumer Product Safety Commission has filed 195 reports concerning shattered shower glass since 2012. It is also true that around 33,000 people are injured by toilets each year.

Like the windshield of your vehicle, glass shower doors are almost always made of tempered glass for safety reasons. Tempered glass is designed to break into berry-sized crumbles rather than into jagged, lethal shards. This is a good thing. However, the process that tempers the glass sometimes makes it easy to shatter if there are imperfections in the glass itself, if there are bad edges in the holes drilled into the glass, or if the manufacturing process was not up to specifications.

Bathrooms are inherently dangerous places for children and adults. It may be best to fore-go having glass shower doors until children are older, but there are steps you can take to make the mixture of kids and glass shower doors less risky.

If your heart's set on a frameless shower door, consider these options.

One option is to install glass only in an adult bathroom, and to declare that room off limits to children. This is easier said than done, depending on your children's level of rebellious spirit.

Locks and alarms are options. There are alarms for shower doors that will send an alert to your smart device no matter where you are, which could provide a measure of family safety.

There are options to minimize injury from a glass door. One strategy is to use a film that adheres to the glass and holds all the tiny pieces of tempered glass in place during a shatter event. Have a professional to do this step, because if not done correctly, the glass will come down in one giant pancake on top of the person in the shower. The aim is for the crumbled glass to be held upright so that escaping the shower is less dangerous.

Often the cause of shattering tempered glass is rough treatment and worn glass edges. Teach children to handle doors gently. Periodically inspect all home glass, from shower doors to sinks, for chips or other signs of failure.

Always have safety plans, even for glass shower doors.

When a glass shower door crumbles, it will often cover the shower floor with glass nuggets. Injuries usually involve feet that get cut as bathers try to step over the glass to exit the shower area.

If you have glass shower doors, have an emergency "kit" in the shower. A low-profile hook or conveniently-hung net can hold a pair of shower shoes, a thick towel, and a brush to sweep away the glass for a safer path out.

For more safety tips, this website explains glass shower doors in depth.

You can check product safety websites for any recalls, but a shower door professional will know which glass doors have had problems and which are designed with your family's safety in mind. A frameless shower door specialist like one from AA Glass Service has all of the skills and experience necessary to help you design the master bathroom of your dreams, while keeping the security of your little ones their top priority.