Although we like to think of our homes as sanctuaries of comfort and security, the typical American house harbors some significant safety risks.

In fact, every year, more than 18,000 Americans die from accidental injuries that take place in the house, making our homes the second most common location for an accident – the first being cars on the road.

Homeowners can take steps to reduce these risks and increase household safety.

Falling is the leading cause of unintentional home injury deaths; it claims nearly 6,000 lives per year, according to the Home Safety Council. Although there are all sorts of ways to reduce this risk, one recommendation is for homeowners to install grab bars in their bathtubs and showers.

If you fall in the tub or the shower, you are falling onto an extremely hard surface, which can result in a more severe injury. Although many consumers recoil at the thought of grab bars – which are often associated with nursing homes and elderly care facilities – perceptions are outdated.

The new models that are now on the market are much more attractive than they ever used to be. So let’s get rid of that idea that they are going to be ugly.

More recent models are designed to complement other items in your bathroom and easily can be installed by an experienced professional.

The shower area, which has a step of approximately four to seven inches high, can be a significant problem for people who are unsteady on their feet or those who are wheelchair bound. One solution is a level entry shower and also grab bars for entering and exiting.

There are also grab bars available that double as shampoo shelves or soap holders.

Injuries getting on and off the toilet are quite high in people 65 and older or people with disabilities. You’ve seen that unattractive add-on you sit on top of your toilet, but now there is a toilet riser that can be installed under your toilet to raise it up, making it more comfortable with no messy cleaning.

Having grab bars by the toilet is also beneficial.

There are many more independent home living solutions available: super poles, independent rails, smart rails, fold down rails, fold down shower seats and even special made-to-order grab bars.

So, before you make a decision, look at all your options.

Find someone with experience to evaluate your specific needs during a free in-home consultation.

Marcel G. Sarrasin is co-owner of Linmar Consultants Inc., offering independent home living solutions. www.linmar