Take special precautions with young children who use spas or hot tubs. Spas and hot tubs are deep enough for children to drown in a matter of minutes! Such accidents are usually silent and often without any signs of distress at the surface. Bubbles may obscure visibility. Also, children may become ill from overheating. As a spa or hot tub owner, you may be legally liable for the safety of all persons who use your facility. You have the ultimate responsibility. Be sure your insurance policy is updated to include ownership of your spa or hot tub. However, facing ownership responsibilities does not mean taking the fun out of using your spa or hot tub. If you know about proper safety practices and use good judgment, you will find that the benefits of a spa or hot tub can far outweigh the risks.
Here are some guidelines for using your spa or hot tub.
Supervision is a key element in getting maximum, safe enjoyment from your spa or hot tub. One individual must assume primary responsibility for supervising the spa or hot tub. Appoint a “designated child watcher.” The supervisor must study the contents of this booklet as well as any instructions from the spa or hot tub manufacturer and be thoroughly familiar with all facets of the safe operation and maintenance of the spa or hot tub. He or she will take responsibility for communicating safety information to all persons who enter the spa or hot tub area. It is a good idea to designate a back-up for times when the primary supervisor is unavailable. The supervisor or “designated child watcher” is responsible for enforcing “house rules” for your spa or hot tub. Draw up these rules from information in this booklet and other safety and maintenance information provided by the manufacturer or dealer. These rules should cover such things as the length of time allowed for a soak, consumption of alcoholic beverages, maintenance, use of electrical appliances, and the handling of chemicals. Establish rules immediately. Write them in simple language and post them where they are easy to see— near the spa or hot tub.
These rules should be clearly communicated to and understood by all persons, young and old, who use your spa or hot tub. Most importantly, consistently enforce these rules. Never leave the spa or hot tub unsupervised. When supervision is not available, even for a moment, close the spa or hot tub. It makes sense to pay special attention to educating children about safety precautions. Teach your children about equipment maintenance and proper upkeep of the spa or hot tub. As they get older, your children will learn from your example that they must respect the spa or hot tub and surrounding area and act responsibly. It also makes sense for the supervisor and other responsible family members to be trained in artificial respiration and/or cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
Soaking in your spa or hot tub is relaxing, warm, and wonderful. The hot water soothes your body and rejuvenates your spirits. But that same hot water holds some potential dangers.
- Persons with heart disease, diabetes, high or low blood pressure, or any serious illness as well as pregnant women and persons with any doubt about sensitivity to higher temperatures, should not enter a spa or hot tub without prior consultation with their doctor.
- Before entering, look at the water in your spa or hot tub. If there is cloudiness or foaming, or if a “locker room” or strong chlorine smell is present, the water needs treatment. Soaking in such water greatly increases your chances of getting a skin rash (pseudomonas). Be sure to maintain the water properly. Ask your spa or hot tub professional for guidance.
- People with skin, ear, genital, or other body infections, open sores, or wounds should not use the spa or hot tub because of the possibility of spreading infection.
- Shower with soap and water before and after using the spa or hot tub. Showering before use washes away many of the common skin bacteria and removes lotions, deodorants, creams, etc. Perspiration and lotions will reduce the effectiveness of the disinfectant and lessen the ability of the filter to work efficiently
- High water temperatures can elevate your body temperature and the temperature of internal organs beyond safe limits. (It’s almost like having a fever.) It is recommended that maximum water temperature never exceed 104° F (40° C).
- Soaking too long makes some people nauseated, dizzy, lightheaded, or faint. Don’t soak for more than 15 minutes at one sitting in 104° F (40° C) water. If you wish to soak for a longer period of time in high temperatures, leave the spa or hot tub after 15 minutes, and then cool down and return for another brief stay. In lower temperatures (e.g., 98.6° F—normal body temperature), most people can comfortably and safely soak for longer periods at one sitting. If you have any questions about what’s right for you and your family, consult with your doctor.
- Never use the spa or hot tub when you are alone.
- Never use a spa or hot tub while using or after using alcohol. Alcohol acts to expand your blood vessels and increase your body temperature, much like soaking in hot water does. Alcohol in your bloodstream and soaking at the same time creates a combined effect that can be damaging. The body temperature may accelerate to dangerous levels quickly. The alcohol may cause nausea, dizziness, or lightheadedness. The ultimate danger of combined alcohol consumption and hot water soaking is drowning due to loss of consciousness, heart attack, or injury due to passing out and falling.
- As with alcohol, the combined use of certain prescribed medicines and hot water soaking can be dangerous. Never use a spa or hot tub while using or after using narcotics or other drugs that may cause sleepiness or drowsiness or raise or lower blood pressure. With any drug or medication, consult with your doctor about potentially harmful effects from combined use of the drug and hot water soaking. Never use a spa or hot tub if you are under the influence of drugs.
- It is best not to soak immediately after eating a heavy meal.
- Keep an accurate thermometer in the spa or hot tub at all times to monitor the water temperature. Be sure you check the water temperature before entering and while in the spa or hot tub.
- Do not try to adjust or touch equipment such as pumps, heaters, or electrical appliances while you are in the spa or hot tub, or while standing in water, unless designed as such and recommended by the manufacturer.
- Enter the spa or hot tub slowly and cautiously. Be careful of your footing and allow your body to gradually get used to the water temperature. Leave slowly as well, because your leg muscles may be sufficiently relaxed to make you a bit unsteady and you may become lightheaded.
- Never allow children to use the spa or hot tub unsupervised. Children enjoy playing in water and may not understand the risks involved in overexposure. Discretion is advised in allowing children to use spas and hot tubs at all, since their young bodies may not adjust well to the high temperatures. If in doubt, check with your doctor for specific recommendations for your children given their age or other medical considerations.
- If children will be using your spa or hot tub, explain to them that they cannot under any circumstances dive or jump into it. While a spa or hot tub may seem deep and large to a child, it is not designed for jumping, diving, or underwater swimming. Serious injury can result if any of these are attempted.
Your spa or hot tub is an excellent place to relax your cares away. It is also good for “warming up” with simple flexibility exercises. These exercises are easier in water because water effectively lessens the pull of gravity on your body. Be aware of the weakening effect of hot water and don’t overdo it. If you wish to exercise in your spa or hot tub, lower the temperature to 80° F. Before beginning any exercise program, consult your physician. Use good judgment in monitoring your own exercise and supervising others who exercise in your spa or hot tub.
Your spa or hot tub can be the focal point for entertaining. Plan ahead to prevent accidents and injuries to make your entertaining truly enjoyable.
- Your family and guests are likely to be intrigued by your new spa or hot tub. Before they go in—and especially if it is their first time in a hot water facility—explain the safety precautions. Point out how to enter it and where the seats are located.
- Food and drink play an important part in your entertaining. Establish an area away from the spa or hot tub for refreshments to prevent accidental slips or falls caused by spills near the spa or tub or on the deck and to prevent debris from falling into the water.
- More likely than not, your guests will be barefooted while near the spa or hot tub. Use only unbreakable dishes, beverage containers, and utensils. Never use glass anywhere near the spa or hot tub. Broken glass is invisible in water and extremely difficult to get out of the support system.
- Keep electrical appliances a significant distance from the spa or hot tub. Don’t use extension cords. Use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) on any appliance that must be near the spa or hot tub. Where possible, use battery-operated appliances around the spa or hot tub. Electrocution from appliances and telephones in contact with water is a real danger.
- If you use your spa or hot tub at night, provide adequate lighting around the facility.
- Alcohol consumption and spa and hot tub activities do not mix. Alcohol acts as a depressant. It can “slow you down” because it affects the part of the brain that exercises restraint and control. Alcohol can instill false courage or “bravado,” leading people to try things they normally would not. Therefore, persons who have been drinking alcohol should not be allowed in the spa or hot tub and should be carefully supervised in the surrounding area.
- Prescription and over-the-counter medicines sometimes cause drowsiness or have other side effects. If you are taking prescription medicine, check with your doctor before using the spa or hot tub.
- Never allow anyone who has been drinking alcohol or using drugs to go into the spa or hot tub. There is a great possibility that the person could drown or be seriously injured.
- Do not allow running on the deck or area around the spa or hot tub, as injuries may occur from slips and falls.
- If your spa or hot tub is outdoors, stay out of it during lightning or rainstorms, because of the possibility of electrocution from the lightning hitting the water.
You have the bottom-line responsibility in entertaining. Use good judgment to help protect yourself, your family, and guests. If you are unsure of any person’s condition or abilities, prohibit them from using your spa or hot tub. Remember, you are in charge of your facility.