Sunday, September 27, 2009

Spa & Hot Tubs Safety (What can go wrong?)

As all hot water devotees know, one of life's finest pleasures is lounging in a private home hot tub bubbling away in the warm waters of a home therapy spa. Worries & cares seem to melt away, and we emerge truly revitalized. With a regard for basic safety, and a dose of common sense, hot tubbing can be a very healthy and rewarding experience. Below are some helpful spa and hot tub safety tips and information.

Maintain Sanitizer & Water Balance

Spa test strips Do not enter a hot tub unless you know that the sanitizer level is adequate to keep the water healthy and free of harmful microorganisms. Maintaining the Total Alkalinity (TA) and pH for proper water balance, and regularly shocking of the water will make your sanitizer much more effective in controlling bacteria.

Use the appropriate test strips to monitor TA and pH, as well as the sanitizer level. A new bacteria test is also now available.

Chemicals & Spa Supplies

Chemicals, additives and cleaning compounds are best kept in a cool, dry, and well ventilated location, away from direct sunlight and out of the reach of children. Read and follow all directions on chemical labels.

As a rule, spa chemicals should not be mixed together prior to addition to the water. Dissolve dry chemicals one at a time in a plastic bucket of clean water, then pour into the hot tub. This will also prevent damage to the acrylic shell (or PVC liner) from direct contact of un-dissolved granules.

Alcohol and Drugs

Drinking Bird - keep out of hot tub ! Hot water amplifies the effects of alcohol and certain drugs, and the result can be dangerous. Consult your doctor regarding the use of prescription drugs. Many people prefer the enjoyment of a chilled soft drink, juice or mineral water while relaxing in their spas.

Water Temperature

Safe spa water temperature Soaking for too long in elevated water temperatures can raise body heat to hazardous levels. The National Spa and Pool Institute considers 104° F to be the maximum safe water temperature for adults, and modern spas are normally set at the factory not to exceed that limit.

A safe soaking time should not exceed 15 minutes. Some medical authorities have recommended a lower maximum temperature of 100° to 102° F. They advise that since infants and children are more sensitive to heat, they should be exposed to water of not more than 95° F, for no more than 10 minutes. Consult with your family doctor.

Persons with heart disease, diabetes, high or low blood pressure, or any other serious illness should not enter a spa or hot tub without first consulting with, and obtaining the advice of a physician.

Keeping a floating thermometer in the water is a good idea, especially if your spa does not have a digital temperature readout indicator.

Children and Infants

Never allow children to use a spa without adult supervision. Children and infants should be introduced into the hot tub or spa slowly to give them time to adjust to the change in temperature and to alleviate fear or discomfort.

NEVER, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES leave children unattended in hot tubs, spas or pools. Even shallow ones pose a drowning hazard, and even a few moments alone is too long. Better safe than sorry is a good rule to tub by!


Pregnant women should not enter a hot tub or spa without first consulting with their physician and following the doctor's advice.

Hair Entanglement

Do not allow children to play underwater in a spa
Drain Suction
A drowning risk can occur when a bather's hair becomes entangled in a drain cover, as the water and hair are drawn through the drain. Never allow children (or anyone) to play with heads underwater in a spa.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission helped develop a standard requiring dome-shaped drain outlets and two outlets for each pump. This reduces the powerful suction if one drain is blocked. Consumers with older spas should have new drain covers installed and may want to consider getting a spa with two drains to help prevent entrapment. If you have a swimming pool, have it checked as well.

Regularly have a professional check your spa or hot tub and make sure it is in good, safe working condition, and that drain covers are in place and not cracked or missing. Check the drain covers yourself throughout the year. Make sure you have a GFCI-protected power disconnect device installed, and know where and how to use it in an emergency.

Power Cutoff Switch
Locate your quick disconnect panel per electrical code The National Electrical Code requires the installation of an approved manual disconnect device for your hot tub be located at least 5 ft. away, and within line of sight of the spa for safety. Make sure that your hot tub's electrical system is properly wired, grounded, and protected by a GFCI.

GFCI Installation

Electrical Devices
Avoid corded electrical devices around hot tubs NEVER handle a corded phone, radio, TV, hair dryer or any other electrical device while you are around spas or pools, in contact with water, when hands or feet are wet, or when barefoot.

Locate all electrical outlets a safe distance away from your spa or hot tub, as specified in local building codes. Keep electrical devices away from the water, and never place them on the spa edge. If an electrical appliance should fall into the water, or be touched by a bather, electrocution could result.

Spa Cover

Locking tie down straps for spa covers Always use a locked safety cover when the spa is not in use. Keep young children away from spas unless there is constant adult supervision.

Small children are curious, and unsupervised hot tubs can be an attraction to them. Make sure that the spa cover straps are tight enough to prevent a child from slipping under. Make sure your spa cover is in sound condition. Replace if necessary.
As an added precaution, consider installing a pair of extra tie-down straps for more security. Extra spa cover tie downs

Safety Rails & Steps
Handrail Getting in and out of hot tubs with wet, slippery feet can pose a hazard. Consider the addition of sturdy spa steps and a handrail.

Keep dry towels handy for feet and hands by installing a towel bar. Non-skid surfaces around the parameter of the spa are a good idea. Serve snacks and drinks in plastic containers to avoid the possibility of broken glass. Make sure that adequate lighting is provided at ground level, especially if used at nighttime.

Tub Together/Couples Spa
It is always wiser (and a lot more fun, we might add!) for adults to soak together. With two or more persons bathing, someone will be there to help if the co-tubber has a problem. Always accompany children.

More Safety Information

NSF has additional information for consumers regarding swimming pool & spa safety.

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