While using a hot tub can be a fun and relaxing activity for people of almost all ages, it’s still important to put safety first. Hot tubs come with their own set of risks, no matter how unlikely they may seem.
Here, we’ll outline everything you need to know about hot tub safety.
Read on to learn how to keep you and your family safe when enjoying your hot tub:
- Don’t leave children unattended.
- Keep pets out of the hot tub.
- Avoid overheating.
- Observe hot tub hygiene.
- Stay away from alcohol.
- Keep your hot tub in tip-top shape.
- Take caution when pregnant.
1. Don’t Leave Children Unattended
Children have just as much fun in hot tubs as adults. However, there are some extra precautions you should take when children are using your hot tub.
First and foremost, never leave children unattended under any circumstances. This includes when they’re in close proximity to the hot tub, not just when they’re using it.
This is important for a few reasons:
- Even if they’re good swimmers, children are more susceptible to drowning in hot tubs than adults.
- Children’s bodies aren’t yet fully developed and thus can’t thermoregulate as well as adults’ bodies. This means that they’re at a higher risk for overheating and even heat stroke.
- Children aren’t yet adept at evaluating risks, and thus are more likely than adults to jump or dive into a hot tub.
To keep children safe, always observe the following guidelines:
- Don’t allow children who are under the age of five (or cannot stand in the center with their head above the water) to enter the hot tub.
- Make sure children are always supervised in and around the hot tub.
- Keep the temperature under 104 degrees at the very least. For younger children, keep the temperature under 100 degrees.
- Emphasize to children that jumping and diving into a hot tub is dangerous and should never be attempted.
- Ensure that children aren’t allowed to engage in horseplay around or in the hot tub.
2. Keep Pets Out of the Hot Tub
As we explained in a recent blog post, “Are Hot Tubs Dog-Friendly?,” dogs and hot tubs don’t mix.
This is due to a few different reasons:
- Dogs can’t sweat, so they can easily become overheated when submerged in hot water.
- Dogs who aren’t strong swimmers run the risk of drowning.
- With their sharp nails and shedding fur, dogs can scratch up your hot tub or clog its filters.
The solution is simple: never allow your dog (or anyone else’s) to enter your hot tub, and always keep your hot tub covered when not in use.
3. Avoid Overheating
You already know that children and pets are at an increased risk for overheating. That being said, adults also need to take caution when enjoying a relaxing soak, particularly if they’re over the age of 65.
As a general rule of thumb, never heat your hot tub to more than 104 degrees, and never take a nap in your hot tub.
Additionally, pay attention to what your body is telling you. If you feel nauseous, light-headed or dizzy at any point during your hot tub session, it’s time to get out, take a breather and drink some cool (not cold) water.
If you ignore your body’s signals, you risk overheating and even heat stroke, which can have serious health effects.
4. Observe Hot Tub Hygiene
Since hot tubs are filled with continuously circulated water, it’s important to do everything you can to avoid bringing in additional germs and contaminants.
Although it may be unpleasant to talk about, it’s important to note that you should never use a hot tub if you have diarrhea. That’s because doing so can lead to the spread of dangerous bacteria.
This is so crucial that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists it as the number one hot tub rule in the article titled, “Hot Tub/Spa User Information.”
By the same token, always take a shower before entering your hot tub. This can not only prevent the spread of germs, but also keep debris and dirt from clogging up your hot tub filters.
5. Stay Away From Alcohol
While a hot tub may seem like a great place to enjoy a drink, you should avoid combining alcohol with your hot tub sessions.
The CDC recommends refraining from drinking either before entering the hot tub or during your hot tub sessions.
This is due to the physical and mental effects of alcohol. Alcohol dilates the blood vessels, as does the heat of a hot tub. Your blood will circulate faster as a result, making you hotter and more affected by the alcohol.
This can increase your risk of overheating and heat stroke. If you drink in excess, you may also risk falling asleep or passing out in your hot tub, or tripping and falling.
6. Keep Your Hot Tub in Tip-Top Shape
To keep you and other users safe, never neglect your hot tub’s cleanliness or maintenance.
To do this, follow these basic guidelines:
- Regularly clean and change your filters (click here to learn how).
- Maintain a proper balance of chemicals (to learn how, see our guide).
- Make sure that your hot tub’s heater and pump are functioning properly (click here to troubleshoot common heater issues, or here to see a list of spa error codes).
- Observe general maintenance practices (click here to find out more).
By keeping your hot tub clean and running smoothly, you can avoid many potential safety risks, including dangerous bacteria and overheating.
7. Take Caution When Pregnant
As with drinking and caffeine consumption, the rules for hot tubs change when you’re pregnant.
That’s because the hot temperatures of hot tubs can have negative effects on unborn babies, from potential birth defects to neurological problems.
What’s more, pregnant women are at a greater risk of overheating when using a hot tub.
As we outlined in a previous article, pregnant women should keep these tips in mind when using a hot tub:
- Set the tub’s water temp to 101 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, as per the American Pregnancy Association’s recommendations.
- Check the hot tub temperature with a thermometer before entering — it may take hours for your hot tub to cool down to a safe temperature.
- Sip cool water throughout your entire hot tub session.
- Monitor your internal temperature to ensure it’s under 101 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Don’t sit near the inlet that pushes freshly heated water into the spa.
- Keep your upper body out of the water, from about your bust line up, to keep your core temperature from rising too rapidly.
- Don’t soak in the hot tub for longer than 10 minutes.
- Immediately exit the hot tub if you feel uncomfortable or show signs of dehydration (if you stop sweating or feel nauseous, for example).
Use these seven safety tips and you’ll be able to enjoy your hot tub to the fullest without risking you or your family’s health.
After all, no hot tub session is worth the dangerous results it can cause if proper safety precautions aren’t observed.
For more information about hot tub safety, check out “10 Things You Shouldn’t Do in a Hot Tub.”