A hot tub is really a piece of luxury you want in your home. With the advent of inflatable hot tubs, hot tubs are getting more affordable so it’s no wonder that everyone is looking to own one. If for nothing else than to soak in one right after a long day at work and let the warm water caress you and melt your troubles, worries and stress away. As Tolkien declared, “…Water Hot is a noble thing!”
If you have kids, you may have conjured up visions of all of you in a pool, splashing water around and having a smashing good time as a family. Before you are lost in these daydreams, remember that it’s not the same with kids and you have to follow safety guidelines so that they have a safe hot tub experience. Read on to find out what safety precautions you should take if you have young kids at home.
How safe are inflatable hot tubs for kids?
If you have a hot tub at home and kids look at you with those puppy eyes to allow them to get in, it would be hard to say no! Plus, if you’re all going on vacation to a resort and it has a hot tub, the kids would want to join in the fun too. As a parent, you don’t want to leave them out of the fun. For you, it’s a small hot tub to relax in. In their little eyes, it’s a swimming pool. Particularly if it is a hot tub that bubbles, it is such an irresistible attraction for them.
Most hot tub sellers and merchants come with guidelines that stress that no children under the age of 5 should be allowed in hot tubs. (We know!). And in any case, never leave children unsupervised if you are going to allow them a few minutes of hot tub indulgence.
And the short answer is are hot tubs okay for infants and toddlers? The short answer is no. Read on to find out what hazards can occur and the safety guidelines you can follow.
What are the hot tub hazards that you cannot ignore?
When it comes to kids, there are 2 things to keep in mind – moderation and supervision. Always limit how long kids can enjoy in a hot tub and always be around to ensure that they are safe. Also, keep a careful eye on the water balance and chemistry. Ensure that the pH, chlorine and bromine levels are correct at all times.
Temperature and overheating
Most hot tubs are preset to reach 104 degrees Fahrenheit. While this may be completely okay for you and you may find it totally soothing and comfortable, it is not so for kids. They respond to heat differently and their skins are much more delicate than ours. The CPSC has reports of several deaths that happened because of very hot water of around 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Especially in warm weathers, kids run the risk of overheating at the preset temperature.
Young babies in particular have difficulty regulating their body temperature. So when they get in hot tubs that are too hot, their body temperature will rise alarmingly quickly and significantly as well. This will not only cause many metabolic problems but other safety issues like drowsiness which may lead to unconsciousness and may result in drowning. In worst cases, it may even cause a heat stroke and in rare cases, death.
Always remember, it may be warm for you, but for your little one, it’s going to be too hot! Moreover, when travelling and there’s a hot tub where you’re at, it’s a great idea to take a floating thermometer to check the temperature of the water and see if it’s okay for your kid.
Apart from heat-related illnesses, other mishaps that can occur.
Injury getting in and out
There is a possibility of slipping and hurting yourself when you get in or out of a hot tub. This is particularly true if the area around the hot tub is wet. There is a greater chance of this happening if you have an inflatable hot tub cause it is prone to be moved around.
The walls of the hot tub aren’t flimsy per se, but young kids may easily roll off the side when getting in or coming out. You need to show them a safe and easy way to get in and out of the hot tub.
We know this sounds scary but don’t sweat over it. The possibility of this occurrence is very rare. Never use an extension cord, ensure the cord you use is in perfect condition and also recheck whether the outlet is grounded and has a GFCI breaker in it.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission(CPSC) drowning is the chief hazard associated with hot tubs. Unfortunately, what is shocking to note is that one-fifth of those deaths were children under the age of 5. This is another reason to never let infants and very young toddlers use the hot tub. And even if older children are using it, always always be around to ensure their safety. We just cannot stress this enough!
If you have a hot tub spa at home, cover it with a safety lock cover when they are not in use. And it’s best to keep them out where children have easy access to them(just in case!)
Hair getting sucked into the suction fitting
Ok, this may be a little hard to read, but keep at it because it can actually be a potential risk! The CPSC has documentation of incidents where people’s hair was sucked into the fitting of a hot tub causing the person’s head to be held under the water. There’s the danger of children’s hair getting entangled in a drain cover as the water and hair are drawn through the drain.
Moreover, when children get into a spa, and especially if there are few other kids around, they are bound to test out who can hold their breaths the longest underwater. Don’t be reluctant to lay some ground rules that submerging heads underwater is a strict no-no. It’s better to be safe than sorry! There are standards for drain covers that help reduce this risk and we recommend that you have drain covers that meet this standard.
The suction that pulls the water out can be pretty strong, and there have been reports of children being pulled under the water by the force. The newer hot tubs feature 2 outlets for each pump, thereby reducing the suction if one of the outlets is blocked. So, if yours is an older model, consider replacing it with a newer one with two outlets.
Finally, everyone in the house MUST know where the cut-off switch for the pump is located. So that in case there is an emergency, anyone can immediately turn it off.
What age is safe for hot tubs?
As discussed before, experts, CPSC and hot tub manufacturers advise against children below the age of 5 using hot tubs. This is primarily because of issues with overheating. If you use and maintain your hot tub perfectly, with properly balanced water, clean filters along with reasonable temperature that is suited for kids, it is okay for everyone to use. When the hot tub is at 104 degrees Fahrenheit, kids who are aged 12 and below should not be using it beyond 5 minutes.
So what temperature to set your hot tub to when kids get in? Around 95 to 98 degrees is good for them. At this temperature, it is okay for children to be in the pool for around 15 minutes. Tops!
Can my 6-month-old baby go in a hot tub?
Definitely no! Not even with temperatures as low as 96 or 98 degrees, avoid taking in infants, 6-month-olds and or even a year-old-babies.
Can my 18-month-old baby go in a hot tub?
Sorry, but this is still a no! Even with shorter soak times and lowering the temperature according to professionals.
Apart from overheating and slipping or drowning issues, if your bub has an “accident” then the hot tub will become unsanitary.
Guidelines for using hot tubs for children aged 5+
If you are going to allow your kid to play in a hot tub for the very first time, allow them in for just 5 minutes, to begin with. You can slowly increase it to 15 minutes. Never longer than that at any stage. Lower to temperature to around 100 degrees; 98 is just perfect.
Children aged 5 to 12 should not stay for more than 5 minutes if the temperature is at 104 degrees. As we suggested, it’s best to set the temperature to around 98 degrees.
Children, no matter their age, should not be allowed in hot tubs unless they can stand on the bottom of the tub and their heads are completely out of the water. They need to be that tall. Despite using floating aids, water wings or life vests, this is a rule you cannot get around.
It is best if young kids avoid immersing their entire body inside the hot tub. Spas with jump seats or benches that allow only partial immersion is great. Also “how long can you hold your breath underwater” games are strictly off-limits!
It is important to avoid dehydration while using the hot tub. So, it’s good to give them water before and after their time in the hot tub.
Thunderstorm or lightning:
No getting into the tub during a thunderstorm or lightning.
You would do well to give goggles for them to wear in the spa. The chemicals in the water may cause the eyes to become red, swollen and irritated. Goggles will prevent that.
Avoiding “accidents” in the hot tub:
If your child is young enough that they don’t have control over their bladders and cannot tell you when they need to use the bathroom, they don’t get into the hot tub. Simple.
You must tell your older kids to not pee inside the tub. Not only is it gross, but it poses health hazards when it comes in contact with chemicals in the hot tub. This could lead to skin irritation, breathing problems and bacterial infections.
Avoid them playing with hot tub components:
Lay down some ground rules like they cannot play with the water filter, pump and heating device of the tub. They should not touch the electric cord or socket. Run your inflatable hot tub power supply through a circuit breaker for peace of mind and safety.
Other behavioral etiquettes children should be made to follow:
- No running around the hot tub. The area may be slippery.
- No jumping or diving into the hot tub.
- No tasting or drinking the hot tub water.
- No too much snacking inside the tub. Having water or a slightly cold beverage is a great idea to stay hydrated.
- If your kid has a cold, fever or runny nose, its best to avoid the hot tub till they recover. The same applies when they have ear infections too.
- Don’t allow your child in the tub if they have an open wound or a cut.
- They can use the bathroom before getting in to avoid “accidents”.
- Ensure they rinse their feet before getting in
Finally, this is for you, parents and caregivers. Never stray too far off and always keep a hawk-eye on them at all times!
Phew! We have dived pretty deep into the world of hot tub safety! Children can find hot tubs super thrilling and exciting. Just ask any parent! But it is important to follow safety measures so that you can all have a worry-free time. Remember, no kids under the age of 5 and keep an eye on the water temperature and soak times. Through constant vigilance, there’s no reason why kids aged 5 and above cannot enjoy a hot tub!