Our family has soaked in our Clearwater Spa every evening for nearly 14 years. Even though our kids (now teenagers) have grown up with a spa, I frequently remind them of our hot tub rules (my "spa Nazi" mentality harkens back to my lifeguarding days).
In honor of National Water Safety Month, I thought I’d share important hot tub safety tips that work for our family –I suspect they’ll work for yours, too.Chemicals
Make sure you have an adequate supply of spa water treatment chemicals, and that you use them. Sanitizing your hot tub kills bacteria that can grow in warm water and helps control algae growth.
We use a water testing kit to test the chlorine and pH balance of the water in our hot tub, and we add chlorine granules or tablets (bromine works well, too) and pH stabilizer as needed.
If your chemicals are beyond their expiration dates or you’re running low, you can purchase new ones at Rich’s. Rich’s carries an extensive line of spa chemicals; a sales associates can help you pick out the right chemicals for your spa.Store spa chemicals in a cool, dry, well-ventilated, secure location, where kids and pets can’t reach them.
Before hopping into your hot tub, completely remove all covers. Flipping the hard cover half-way open makes it too easy for a small child to slip under the cover, even when you’re sitting in the spa with the child. (Not only does Rich's sell custom covers -- we bought one from them recently -- they also the nifty CoverMate, a device that makes it super-easy to open and close your hard cover).
As you get out of your hot tub, cover it with both a lightweight, floating “bubble wrap” cover and a hard, insulated latching cover (trust me; using both a bubble cover and a hard cover saves tremendously on energy costs).
If you have little ones, make sure to latch (and lock) the hard cover.
If the top of your spa is at deck level, do not allow anyone (including your 80 lb. Golden Retriever) to sit, stand, walk, skateboard, run, or jump on the hard cover. Putting extra weight on the cover breaks the insulation inside the cover, which could result in the cover collapsing inward.
Keep wheeled toys such as tricycles away from in-ground spas, to avoid a child accidentally pedaling him or herself into the water.
Move chairs and tables away from above-ground spas, so little ones can’t climb up and in.
Pumps, filters, fittings, and other movable parts
Make sure drain covers, filter covers, and jet covers are properly installed and working correctly. You don’t want any body parts or hair to get sucked into the filter or drain, or for anyone to cut themselves on broken or loose-fitting parts.
And don’t allow kids to dive under the water – their hair can get tangled in or sucked into the drain cover.
In the same manner, make sure all steps, rails, towel bars, and spa umbrellas, are securely installed.
Keep a floating thermometer in your hot tub (we got one at Rich’s that’s shaped like an alligator) and always read the temp before you get in. Last week, we had a power outage and when the power came back on, our hot tub just kept heating up, unbeknownst to us. When I dipped my foot in that evening, I practically scalded myself. Lesson learned.
Set the temp in your spa no higher than 104° F (that’s the maximum safe water temperature for adults recommended by the National Spa and Pool Institute). Limit your soaking time to 15 minutes.
Children should limit their soak time to 10 minutes at a maximum temperature of 95° F.
If you’re feeling overheated, sit on the edge for a while, or just dip your toes in.
If you have heart disease, high or low blood pressure, diabetes, any other serious illness, or are pregnant you should not enter a spa without first getting permission from your doctor.
Electrical outlets should be located a safe distance away from your hot tub.
NEVER place an electrical appliance such as lights, radio, TV, corded phone or hair dryer on the spa’s edge.
Never touch any electrical device when your hands or feet are wet, when you’re barefoot, or when you’re in contact with the water. If an electrical device falls into the water, don’t try to get it out! Turn off the power to ALL electric outlets, and call 9-1-1 for instructions.
It goes without saying that you should always supervise a child who’s in the hot tub. That means sitting with them in the spa, or sitting near them, in direct eye contact and within easy hauling-out-of-the-tub reach.
Hot tubs are deeper than many children realize, and they panic easily when their feet can’t find the floor. Small children who don’t weigh much can be blown off-balance by the jets. It’s always best to accompany a child in the hot tub, even if the child is a good swimmer.
When kids are in a hot tub together, they will get noisy, fast. Don’t permit horseplay or playful screaming for help. Allowing them to “cry wolf” may mask a real emergency.
Alcohol and Drugs
Hot water amplifies the effects of alcohol and certain drugs, so it’s best to steer clear of beer and wine before and during hot tubbing. Instead, to enjoy iced soft drinks, juice, or plan old water. Drink out of plastic containers to avoid the possibility of broken glass.
Safety Rails & Steps
I love having a towel bar, too – I towel off my feet as I exit the hot tub so I don’t slip on the Seattle-wet pavement of my outdoor patio.
Regularly have a professional check your spa or hot tub and make sure it is in safe working condition. Give the friendly folks at Rich’s Service Department a call and schedule an appointment today.