How to use Grab Bars

by Bruce Montgomery Ph.D. June 16, 2016

How to use Grab Bars

A properly selected, located and installed grab bar is easy to use by remembering these common practices:

  1. Make sure that both of your hands are free and not holding onto any item including a towel
  2. Grip bars securely with at least one hand, both hands if possible
  3. Be sure that your hands are dry and free of soap or lotions
  4. Plan your route carefully and take each step with purpose and care
  5. Provide adequate light and a fan that works properly to remove all steam from the room
  6. If you are stepping out of a bathtub, be sure to lift your foot high enough over the edge of the tub, firmly plant your foot on the floor outside the tub and securely grab a bar outside the tub as you exit the tub
  7. Watch your step and be sure the floor in front of you is free of tripping hazards
  8. If you use throw rugs, be sure that they have a rubber backing, are flat on the floor (not bunched) and will not slip
  9. Make the surface of your bathtub or shower slip free – otherwise, add floor grips or mats
  10. Always get someone to assist you if you are insecure about moving even if you have grab bars or other mobility aids*

It is important to note that a towel bar is not a designed to be a grab bar. It is not of the approved ADA grab bar dimensions, is not properly anchored and is not designed to support a person’s weight.

*Your use of a grab bar is dependent upon your health, mobility and physical condition. Regularly consult with your physician about your mobility and its effect on your being able to use grab bars. If you are unsure about using a grab bar, then stop using them and talk with your doctor about other forms of mobility aids and assistance.

Bruce Montgomery Ph.D.
Bruce Montgomery Ph.D.


Dr. Bruce Montgomery is a licensed building contractor in Michigan and Florida. He is a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist as designated by the National Association of Home Builders. He has also achieved an Executive Certificate in Home Modification from the University of Southern California. He has a wide ranging educational background, including a Master of Science degree in Entomology, with a Master of Science degree in Forestry and a Ph.D. in educational administration.