Safety grab bars are helpful tools whose sole purpose is to offer stability and prevent falls. And, yes, there are many accidents in the bathroom. But bypassing the terror statistics, safety bars come down to one principle, their safety. Are they safe? And furthermore, are some designs safer than others?
Suction grab bars are safe, but not as safe as a fixed mounted grab bar. Suction grab bars offer additional stability and balance for life-saving aid. They are not intended to be used for full weight support. Their insubstantial approach to mounting means there are safer choices.
Regarding grab bars, the consumer is left to consider safety on their own. While suction grab bars may not be the safest option because they are not recommended for full weight support, they certainly are easier to install than fixed suction grab bars. This article will dig into the specific question of safety, reviewing the advantages and disadvantages of suction grab bars.
The Safety of Suction Grab Bars
Asking whether or not suction grab bars are safe is a vital consumer question. However, it is hard to discover if there is an agency in the United States that rates grab bars for safety. OSHA offers bathroom regulations for employee restrooms, but that appears to be the only governmental oversight regarding safety in restrooms.
Bathroom safety regulations for the private residence appear to be set by the state, if not the local governing bodies, which means that data available on the topic is limited. Yes, there are scary statistics about bathroom falls, but there are few official consumer guidelines.
Luckily, in a world of influencers, there are going to be at least a few people who have run their own consumer tests for content. The proactive shopper should be able to find information providing a detailed breakdown of safety considerations.
The Lie of Safety on Suction Grab Bars
Without guidelines to adhere to, anyone can design a grab bar, and those designs vary greatly. Some of the factors that come into play are:
The consumer is offered a wide variety, but they are given little guidance on what is truly safest. When reviewing safety bars, suction cup bars or not, one may be bombarded with suggestions of ADA approval or other noteworthy laurels. Without disregarding anyone’s claims, it is probably best to approach these boasts with a grain of salt.
The ADA has a litany of regulations and resources meant to protect and aid Americans with disabilities. Yet, they offer no nod toward any specific product on their site.
How Suction Cup Grab Bars Work?
While fixed mount grab bars are affixed using screws, suction cup grab bars use air pressure. Technically, the suction cup creates a partial vacuum using negative fluid pressure of air or water in order to adhere to flat, non-porous surfaces.
As you push on the suction cup, the air between the suction cup and the wall is expelled. As you release, a vacuum is created in the space between the suction cup and the wall, with the suction cup acting as a seal for the vacuum.
Suction cup mounts fail when the seal created by the suction is compromised. When air or water enter the vacuum, the pressure releases and the suction cups fail to adhere.
Naturally, this is problematic given that grab bars are used in humid environments, if not directly in the line of water. The natural release of pressure, and the constant challenging conditions, directly compromise the grab bar’s suction to the wall. Essentially, this suggests it is not a matter of if the grab bar will fail, but when.
I have included below some Amazon links to a few suction grab bars. Click the link to get the most up to date pricing, reviews and questions about that product.
Here is another product to choose from Medical Supply Depot.
Click here to get the most current price from Medical Supply Depot
Suction Cup Mounting vs. Fixed Mounted Grab Bars?
The safest grab bars are fixed mounted grab bars. These are mounted to the walls using screws. In the best-case scenario, the mounting is positioned in relation to wall studs as well. It is due to their significantly more weight-bearing mounting that they beat out suction cup mounts in safety.
None of this is meant to suggest that suction cup grab bars are not safe. They are safe. They are just not as safe as other options. Suction cup grab bars are useful, practical, portable, and helpful. They are just not as safe for those fully trusting their bodily safety to the bar.
However, suction cup grab bars are undeniably safer than not having a safety grab bar at all. In some situations, a suction cup mounted safety grab bar is the perfect solution.
Here are a couple of fixed grab bars on Amazon. Click on to see the most current price.
The Advantages of Suction Cup Grab Bars?
There are definitely a number of reasons to have a suction cup grab bar. Some advantages of suction cup grab bars are:
- They offer an easy installation. While a fixed mounted grab bar requires screws, drills, and possibly professional installation, a suction cup grab bar is an easy solution for the DIY installer.
- They avoid permanent damage. There will be no drilling through walls to install a suction cup grab bar. They are ideal for apartments or other temporary living situations where a grab bar is wanted but not worth making surface-level and expensive changes for.
- They can be temporary. Perhaps a relative who would benefit from a grab bar is visiting. For the temporary stay, it would be foolish to invest in the lifelong commitment to a fixed mounted grab bar. Likewise, when recovering from injury, a suction cup mount is a perfect temporary solution.
- They are portable. For those traveling that would like the extra assurance of a grab bar, the suction cup mounts mean they can travel with you.
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The Limitations of Suction Cup Grab Bars?
Suction cup grab bars do have some drawbacks, though. Some limitations of suction cup grab bars are:
- They can only be mounted on one type of surface. To be most effective, suction cup grab bars should be mounted on flat, non-porous surfaces. You can try to mount them on alternative surfaces, but their reliability is significantly compromised.
- They will eventually lose their grip. Without being fixed to the wall, the promise that a suction cup grab bar will remain stable, and therefore safe, is questionable.
- They must be mounted properly. Suction cup grab bars are only as good as their mounting. Surface cleanliness, dryness, and locking assurances are all considerations. Additionally, any cracks or breaks in the surface will compromise the safety and effectiveness.
- They provide fewer options for those needing assistance. Due to the limitations on surface types, suction cup grab bars cannot offer the same options as fixed mounted grab bars. For instance, corner safety bars, which assist with getting in and out of a shower, need to be affixed with screws.
What to Look for When Shopping for Suction Cup Grab Bars?
Safety is important and means buying the right product. Look out for these things when shopping for suction cup grab bars:
- Understand a reasonable price range. A cursory glance on Amazon shows a wide price range of suction cup grab bars. In this case, more expensive might not be the best option. Likewise, the cheapest option seems like an equally risky investment. Avoid extreme highs and lows to avoid being scammed either way.
- Read the reviews. Take the time to read the reviews from consumers like you. While it is true that not everyone is the same, and there is no promise everyone mounted the bar correctly, one can take assurance from an overwhelming majority. Learn from those who have come before you.
Suction grab bars are safe, and they might easily provide the immediate assistance needed for surprise slips in the shower. Yet, some people rely on their grab bars for far more than surprise slips. The unavoidable truth is that there are safer options to consider when safety is the ultimate goal.