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How Many Dangers Don’t We See?

by Rundy on November 10, 2006

There are many dangers for Grandpa. It is impossible to eliminate all dangers but I try to make a measured judgement about what should be done about those I see. There is little that can be done about the danger of him falling, but he isn’t allowed to drive or play with fire. Beyond the obvious “not allowed” activities, most other possible dangers are handled on a case-by-case basis, usually with oversight.

But then there are the unnoticed dangers.

Grandpa often forgets why he went to the bathroom. Usually he goes in to use the toilet and when he arrives begins to do something else. A common impulse is to fill up the sink with water. I think this is an old memory impulse from when he used to shave with a razor. Since he no longer has a razor what begins as a shaving usually ends up as a face washing and hair combing. It is a harmless activity so when I catch him fighting with the sink drain trying to get it to stop up the sink I help him and then leave him to his splashing in the water.

That was the beginning yesterday. Grandpa went into the bathroom, opened and close the medicine cabinet, then turned on the water and began to fight with the drain. I helped him stop up the drain, watched to make sure he wasn’t going to leave the water running indefinitely and flood the bathroom, and once he stopped the water and began his splashing I left.

A little later I decided I had better go back and check on him again to make sure he wasn’t getting into any trouble. First thing I see is Grandpa fiddling with his electric razor which is plugged into the outlet beside the sink and is now half dangling into the sink full of water. First reaction is Aaiieee! Why didn’t I see that one coming! Next is quick intervention, first unplugging the razor from the outlet, then carefully elevate the razor back out of the water.

Grandpa wants to shave. First I convince him that he should empty the water out of the sink before he shaves. Then I take off the plastic head cover and shake out what water I can. It doesn’t look like much water got into the device. I dry it off, and since it is battery operated (when not plugged into the wall) I switch it on. Electric shaver still works. I give it back to Grandpa and let him shave.

While he shaves I think about the outlet right next to the sink. It was only in the sudden moment of near electrocution that I noticed the outlet was not a Ground Fault Interrupt outlet. According to code (and any safety concious individual) electrical outlets in bathrooms must be GFI so that if there is ever any problem no one is electrocuted. Time to replace the bathroom outlet.

How many other dangers are right under my nose that I can’t see?

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