A survey by hand-dryer manufacturing firm Airdri (htttps://airdri.com) recently highlighted that more UK children are scared of hand dryers than the dark, bad guys and ghosts.

The research has led the experts at the brand to share guidance on washroom layouts that considers the main issue it feels causes manussiccusphobia (fear of hand-dryers) – the position of the dryers within this setting.

Steve Whittall, Chief Operating Officer at Airdri, explains more: “Often hand dryers are placed in busy spaces, just at the right height for a small child to walk underneath them and right in the position where they can be accidentally set off.

“Very young children don’t understand that the motion sensor is what kickstarts the dryer into action. In their eyes it’s just a scary box on the wall that makes loud noises and blows air at them. So, it’s understandable that it could be frightening.”

Steve advises that the ideal position for a hand-dryer is enroute to the exit after the hand washing stations. He also highlights that restrictions brought about by coronavirus could have positive benefits for a child who is scared of hand-dryers.

He continued: “The one-way systems introduced for coronavirus measures are helpful for a child with manussiccusphobia. Sometimes bathroom layouts can cause chaos, especially where there’s no clear path or order to where you are supposed to go.

“In a one-way system, the route is very clear and it’s easy to understand where you should go next – especially if the company has put in partition walls to make it even clearer.

“A child knows what’s coming and where on the journey the hand-dryer will be. Similarly, adults should be more aware and less likely to set them off accidentally.”

“For larger washrooms then, adopting a one-way system could have more benefits that reducing transmission of illnesses.”

In smaller washrooms where it’s harder to create a one-way system, Steve also has further advice for companies looking to become more child-friendly:

“Factors such as the height at which a hand-dryer is positioned can also help,” he continued.

“A good height for children is around 0.91m above ground, which makes the dryer more visible for them. Children don’t tend to notice what’s above their heads, so bringing it down to their level makes it easier for them to spot.

“Most instructions also say that by the door, or in between the sinks and the toilet cubicles are good locations, however bear in mind that positioning it right near the door means there’s more chance of it being set off by people on their way out.

“Just by keeping children in mind when you design the space, you should be able to work out the places they’re most likely to set off the dryers accidentally and reposition the dryer accordingly. Think about where children are likely to stand while a parent washes and dries their hands too – is there somewhere they can go without setting off the dryers?

Steve believes that just considering a washroom layout will make more bathroom’s child-friendly, despite there being little regulation on any aspect of washroom design.

He said: “Surprisingly, there is only one building regulation for washroom layouts and that’s in relation to doors, so it’s no wonder there are so many poorly laid out ones around.

“Using technology to help design the space can also help, there are quite a few design/layout programmes that are very easy to use. Innoplus is the most widely used and probably the best. Smart draw is great for floor plans and Sketchup is also user friendly (although it’s not the most realistic).

“People who do child-friendly layouts really well undoubtedly reap the benefits. They have designated spaces for children with smaller toilets, basins and hand-dryers placed low on the walls. Parents know they can go there and have a good experience. If it makes life easier, they’re sure to keep going back so any steps a company takes should help businesses appeal to more people.”

Our new Kiddi Quad hand-dryer is designed specifically for children who suffer with a fear of hand-dyers (manussiccusphobia). It has very low sound output and three superhero character designs that aim to get kids used to the sights and sounds of the washroom. Explore the Kiddi Quad here.

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