The Modern Shower, 'Designed to Kill'

Monday, July 28, 2014

baby in shower (Shutterstock)

Last week, Lloyd Alter, managing editor of TreeHugger, was on to discuss why modern bathroom design is inefficient and unsafe. He made the case for why toilets are terrible, but didn't even get to elaborate on his assertion that showers are "death traps." He returns to elaborate why showers are so problematic, and why we should all be showering like the Japanese.


Lloyd Alter

Comments [16]

chris barna from Manhattan

I am facing my second hip replacement soon. Six years ago, when I had my first, the apartment I was in had a stand-up shower with a two inch lip to step over. That was the most difficult part of my day during recovery from surgery. Where I live now has a standard tub/shower but thank goodness at least a grab bar. This story has now made me hyper-aware and I'll be sure to speak with my doctor about the visiting nurse and physical therapist assisting me in this aspect of things. Thanks much for this....

Jul. 29 2014 08:01 AM
jon f edelbaum from Manhattan, Amagansett and points West!

There is absolutely no reason why showers should be dangerous. As an architect involved in mostly residential renovations (and Improvements!) I always install grab rails in showers so, yes, there is something to hold onto. Also, all tubs used in my renovations have non-slip bottoms and where the existing tubs are intended to remain, there are shower mats that have suction cups on the bottom so they do not slide. Most of the time clients are happy to pay the extra cost. For what it is worth, there simply isn't enough space available in the NYC apartments to start adding shower stalls and the like, so it is incumbent upon us to make the tubs safe!

Jon F Edelbaum, AIA

Jul. 29 2014 07:17 AM

Chicken little.

Couldn't agree more with last caller. Given the cost and space of separating bath and shower, it's no wonder lots of homes have dual purpose units.

Taken to its logical conclusion, your guest's argument would have us halve the speed limits on roads and outlaw 90% of the content of a supermarket. Both of these changes would save orders of magnitude more lives than a small pet issue.

Jul. 29 2014 03:24 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

@ JAPANESE BIDETS FROM GOD: There's more to wash than just your bottom. A bidet or toilet is no substitute for a shower. And cologne or eau du toilet is no substitute for a good wash with soap and water.

Jul. 28 2014 01:35 PM

regular japanese bidet/toilets, which are delightful and on amazon (as well as many other places) probably reduce by 2 or 3 the number of times per week a normal american would need to shower at all.

Jul. 28 2014 01:01 PM

I'm on a site that shows modern Japanese bathrooms. Wow they ARE beautiful! and look like they cost plenty. How much would one of these bathrooms cost a normal American? (guessing $50,000 -$100,000)

Jul. 28 2014 11:59 AM
Carol from Manhattan

I often turn off the water to suds up after getting wet. As long as the door and window is closed there is always enough heat in the shower to stay warm even if the water is off. They do it Greece and other European countries. It says water and lowers heating bills.

It makes sense & cents.

Jul. 28 2014 11:58 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Oh, & opening the window lets the steam out & reduces the chance of mold. (It doesn't have to be open that far.)

Jul. 28 2014 11:58 AM

A constant temperature water valve, such as by Hansgroe, limits max temperature, has one handle for volume on-off, and a valve for constant temp.
Every time you turn on it goes to the same temp as you left it.
Off to soap, on to rinse.

Jul. 28 2014 11:58 AM
Dorothy from Manhattan

I live in a 1929 building with a separate tub and shower. No way I'd be able to get into the bathtub these days. I haven't used the tub for many years. When I had knee replacement I had grab bars installed so that I have handles getting in and out as well as in the shower. I also have a seat in the shower. I get wet, turn off shower, soap up, turn water on again. I'm very sensitive to cold and never get cold in the shower. After I get out of the shower the air is very cold (imho).

Jul. 28 2014 11:58 AM
The Truth from Becky

LMAO @ the "shower bidet" - so true!

Jul. 28 2014 11:58 AM
Amy from Manhattan

The on/off valve is separate from the temp. controls, so they stay where they're set. You probably don't take enough time soaping up for the water temp. to change noticeably by the time you switch it back on to rinse.

Jul. 28 2014 11:56 AM
Amy from Scarsdale

OXO makes a great heavy duty suction bath hand rails. Recently installed for both children's bathroom as well as master. Everyone can use an extra hand getting in and out!

Jul. 28 2014 11:54 AM

fortunately, manufacturers and building codes are putting things into place that accommodate the very things he dislikes. For example: thermostatic valve controls with anti-scald features are becoming common among the manufacturers, and building codes require new baths contain special blocking behind the finishes which allow for installation of grab bars.

Jul. 28 2014 11:53 AM

2 thoughts:

Many tenement kitchens featured a tub/shower/curtain assembly.

I was in my 30s when my (fragile) back went out in the shower. Afraid I'd freeze to death when the hot water died. I _really_ needed a bar to get back up!

Jul. 28 2014 11:53 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

Hasn't Mr. Alter heard of rubberized bath mats? They may have been invented after the shower, but someone saw a need, filled it, and now we have safer showers.

Jul. 28 2014 11:50 AM

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