Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death for young children, and spas and hot tubs account for 5-8% of all drownings nationwide. Other statistics, from a National Institutes of Health 26-year study:
- 70% of spa drowning victims were 10-24 months of age.
- Most incidents occurred during the months of May-August.
- Half of hot tub drownings occurred between 4-8pm
- 2/3 of hot tub drownings occurred Friday-Monday
Hot Tub Safety
Keeping your hot tub safe from small children is a combination of constant supervision and effective barriers to entry, and making sure that your spa has no unintentional hazards to small children living in, or visiting a home with a hot tub.
Hot tub hazards – There are two main concerns, drowning and entrapment. Entrapment is when hair, body or limb becomes suctioned down onto the spa drain. Single drains with flat grates can be unsafe, with some powerful pumps able to hold even an adult underwater. There are two other concerns for spa and hot tub safety, namely exposed electrical hazards, and poor water chemistry that can be unsanitary for young children.
Hot Tub Barriers – In the study referenced above, the authors concluded that locking hard spa covers were an effective barrier, and soft covers were certainly not. They also suggested that fencing ordinances be enforced for outdoor spas, and that spa drains be multiple (more than one), and low suction grates be installed. It is unlikely that a small child would have the strength or height needed to remove a hard spa cover, especially one that is strapped with clips. For added protection, use hurricane straps or a come-along type of ratcheting strap across the top of your spa cover.
In Ground Spas – No mention was made of inground spas during the study, but I think we can safely assume that they can be less safe than aboveground models – and most certainly when they are uncovered. Hard spa covers can be secured to the pool deck or floor surrounding a sunken spa in a variety of ways, making them non-removable by children, or even adults. Small spas can be more attractive to small children than a large swimming pool. They are so easy to cover safely, and should always be – covered safely.
- Keep your spa tightly covered with a hard cover when not in use.
- Lock doors or gates that lead to the spa area.
- Keep your spa electrical power dry and tidy.
- Check that your spa drain covers are in place.
- Test spa drains with a kitchen sponge for entrapment hazard.
- Practice constant supervision of children (I know…)
Keep your Spa Safe!