A relaxing soak in the hot tub is a great way to relax and wind down the day, but hot tubs are not without risk. Use
these tips to help keep yourself and and your family safe.
1. Avoid alcohol
Alcohol is a vasodilator--it causes blood vessels to expand, which results in a dip in blood pressure. Soaking in hot water has the same effect. Mixing hot tub use and alcohol exacerbates low blood pressure and can lead to fainting, and ultimately drowning. In fact, Seattle PI reports that up to 70 percent of adult hot tub drownings involve alcohol.
2. Determine whether you're at high risk
The typical 104-degree hot tub water temperatures can cause hyperthermia, or excessively high body temperature. This
condition is particularly dangerous for children under five; pregnant women, especially during the first trimester;
and those with untreated high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease, or who take vasodilating drugs for their
conditions. These individuals should avoid hot tub use without a doctor's OK, or reduce water temperature to 98 degrees or below and limit exposure to a few minutes. Adequate hydration before, during and after hot tub use also helps to prevent
complications from hyperthermia.
3. Test water chemistry.
The germs that flourish in hot tub water can lead to recreational water illnesses such as diarrhea and
bacterial infections. Sufficient chlorine or bromine levels are crucial for disinfecting the water, but too much can
cause irritation to skin, eyes and the respiratory system. Keep chlorine levels at 2-3 ppm and bromine levels at 2-4
ppm. A pH between 7.2 and 7.8 is essential for proper water sanitization and to prevent clouding and scale
formation. Test water twice daily.
4. Use the buddy system
Having a friend or family member on hand to provide immediate assistance can mean the difference between life and death if a swimmer experiences a complication.
Photo credit: Katja Hasselkus