A Guide to Hot Tub Safety

teens playing in pool

Roughhousing in a hot tub is not a smart idea.  Compassionate Eye Foundation/Steven Errico/Getty Images

Couple in spa

A couple enjoys some “us” time in their spa.  Getty Images

If you’re fortunate enough to own a hot tub or spa, then you probably know all the things you should and shouldn’t do in and around the tub, like issues of safety, care and maintenance.

Or do you? What’s the highest temperature at which the water should be safely set? Is it OK to have two glasses of wine, but no more? Just a little bit of sand tracked into the tub won’t hurt, right? Will kids be fine in the hot tub as long as an adult is somewhere in the vicinity?

Better find out.

Don’t Use Alcohol or Drugs

young adults playing in spa

It may be fun, but partying can get dangerous with drugs or alcohol in the mix.  Getty Images

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but drinking and hot tubbing are not a good mix. Despite all of those movies scenes depicting characters cavorting in hot tubs with their favourite beverage in hand, physicians and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) don’t recommend it. Sports stars and politicians have been known to imbibe while entertaining in a spa, but that doesn’t mean we should follow their example. The same caution should be used with drugs—check with your doctor before soaking in extremely hot water while taking a prescription.

One reason is that both alcohol and some drugs (prescription and recreational) can cause drowsiness or disorientation. Check the water temperature before entering (it should not exceed 104 degrees), observe reasonable time limits (10 to 15 minutes), and enter and exit the tub slowly in case of dizziness or to prevent falls.

Wounds, Sores, and Spas

person with bloody foot

Apply first aid to a bleeding wound; don’t rinse it in pool water.  Cultura RM/Charles Gullung/Getty Images

People with open sores or any type of infection should not use a spa. The hot water is the perfect environment for spreading an infection, especially if sanitizer levels are not properly maintained. The same goes for rashes and other injuries. Consult a doctor to get the green light before stepping back into a hot tub.

Can You Get Pregnant in a Hot Tub?

couple kissing in hot tub

Couple gets passionate in spa with all the extras.  Getty Images

Don’t let someone convince you otherwise. Be smart, prepared, and use birth control if you think you might be having intercourse in a hot tub.

Is it Me or is it Hot in Here?

man in hot tub

A definite don’t: getting overheated in a spa can lead to trouble.  Heath Korvola/Getty Images

Newer spas have factory-set temperature maximums of 104°F. Most bathers find that 100° F to 102° F degrees is a comfortable and therapeutic level. Higher temperatures can place undue strain on the cardiovascular system. Be sure to accurately monitor the temperature. If you or your guests feel “funny”, lightheaded, or get overheated, step out of the tub. Check the temperature before returning and make sure you cool off and drink plenty of water.

Kids and Hot Tubs

two children in hot tub

Be vigilante and make sure kids are supervised in hot tubs at all times.  Jeff Speed/First Light/Getty Images

Parents and caregivers should never—not even for a moment—leave children alone near open bodies of water, such as lakes or swimming pools, nor near water in homes (bathtubs, spas), according to the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP).

Spas and hot tubs are dangerous for young children, who can easily drown or become overheated. Don’t allow young children to use hot tubs, the AAP advises. Parents should learn CPR and keep a mobile phone and emergency equipment (i.e., life preservers) at poolside.

A young child’s risk of drowning should be taken seriously. Children can drown in just a few inches of water, and every year several do. Probably the greatest drowning danger arises when a child climbs unnoticed into an unsecured or unattended spa.

For this reason, hot tubs pose a constant source of danger. Like pools, spas should be properly fenced or covered, and an open tub should never be left alone by an adult—even for a minute or less.

Facts About Pools, Spas, and Safety 

Horseplay and Hot Tubs

teens playing in pool

Teens engaging in horseplay in a spa is a bad idea.  Compassionate Eye Foundation/Steven Errico/Getty Images

It starts out innocently enough: a little flirting, teasing, and water play. Everyone becomes a kid again in the water, and casual horseplay can quickly get out of hand, with someone getting hurt. In the limited space of a hot tub, there’s no place to contain the action. Yes, it may be fun, but someone can slip easily, hit his or her head, twist an ankle, etc. Just, don’t.

Don’t jump or dive into a swim spa, spa, or hot tub. Climb in carefully; do not allow anyone to run or play while in or near the spa.

Spas and Drain Covers

spa pool combo

Drain covers in a spa, attached to a pool.  Getty Images

Every public pool and spa in the United States must be equipped with ​an anti-entrapment drain cover. Learn pool and spa safety, how to install a compliant drain covers, and regularly maintain your pool and spa.

Storms and Spas

houses during thunderstorm

During an electric storm, stay indoors.  Aaron Siaw / EyeEm/Getty Images

Never use your spa during extreme weather conditions (i.e. electrical storms, tornados, hurricanes etc.). Go inside and reschedule your hot tub party for a clear day.

Don’t Soak in Hot Tubs Alone

mature woman soaking in spa

While it is relaxing, soaking in a spa alone is not a good idea.  Leon Harris/Getty Images

While those rules posted near public spas don’t seem exactly scientific, some just make good sense. Like not using the hot tub alone. If you’ve been drinking, take meds, have high or low blood pressure, or any other medical condition, it would be wise to wait for a companion to join you for a soak. Consult a doctor before using a hot tub regularly.

Etiquette: What to Do Before Entering a Hot Tub

feet in jacuzzi

joSon/Getty Images

Now that you know what not to do, discover what you should do before entering a hot tub. It never harms your reputation to be known as someone who is clean, reliable, and has impeccable manners.