What is a Grab Bar?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A grab bar or handrail is a bar which is designed to help people with disabilities. You may have seen grab bars in accessible restrooms, for example; in this instance, they help people get in and out of wheelchairs and walkers. Grab bars can also be installed in full bathrooms to help people navigate, and in some homes, grab bars are installed in many locations around the house, anticipating a variety of potential needs.

Man with a drill
Man with a drill

In some regions of the world, the installation of grab bars is required in facilities which will be used by the differently abled. In addition to making spaces more usable and comfortable for their users, grab bars are also safety devices, providing something to hang onto if someone loses his or her balance. Many hospitals and nursing homes install grab bars in their rooms and public areas for this very reason, even if they are not necessarily required to do so.

Several features distinguish a grab bar. The first is that it is designed to carry a large amount of weight. A grab bar must also be mounted in such a way that it will not rotate in its fittings, and it is typically round and wide enough to create an easy surface to grip. Many grab bars are made from various metals, which are easy to make sturdy, and the metal may have a brushed or textured surface to provide some traction.

The height of grab bars can vary, but it is generally tailored for someone using a wheelchair and a walker. The installation of a grab bar in a place like a bathroom can make a huge difference for someone in a wheelchair, as it makes a previously inaccessible space accessible. By using a grab bar, someone in a wheelchair can often use a bathroom without assistance, and this can be a very liberating feeling.

In addition to being helpful for wheelchair users who might have trouble getting around, grab bars are also useful for the elderly and other people who have balance problems. A grab bar or handrail in a kitchen or hallway can provide support for someone who has trouble walking, as well as a safety net in case someone things that he or she may be falling. By gripping the grab bar, a fragile person might prevent a serious injury as a result of a fall.

Many hardware stores sell grab bars, and it is also possible to purchase them from suppliers which stock other accessibility supplies. If you are installing grab bars in a business, you may want to check on prevailing codes to ensure that you install the proper bars in the right location.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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