Concern #1: Sitting In Hot Water Is Unhealthy
Our first hot tub health concern is simply that sitting in hot water for long periods of time is unhealthy. There is some truth to this. If you were to sit in water that is too hot for too long your body can overheat. The key here is defining what temperature is unsafe to bathe in.
So how hot is too hot? Most experts recommend a maximum water temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit for prolonged bathing. For this reason, modern hot tubs are only able to be set at a maximum of 104F. As long as you stay under that temperature, there is no danger of your body overheating, with two exceptions; young children and pregnant women.
Young children simply cannot regulate their body temperatures as well as adults can. For that reason, babies and toddlers should avoid using hot tubs altogether, while young children shouldn’t use them for more than 30 minutes at a time without a “cool down” period in between. For that same reason, pregnant women should also not use hot tubs.
Note: Some older hot tubs don’t have the same limitations and can be set to run as high as 107F. If the temperature in one of those hot tubs is set between 105-107F we recommend staying in for no more than 30 minutes at a time.
Concern #2: You Can Get Sick From Using A Hot Tub
As with our first hot tub health concern, there is some truth to this; if you don’t take good care of your hot tub that is. Bacteria thrives in hot water. If left alone, the bacteria in your hot tub water will multiply and can cause you to become sick if exposed to it for a long period of time.
Fortunately, there is a simple and effective solution to this problem; sanitizing chemicals (typically bromine or chlorine). Sanitizing chemicals are specifically designed to kill bacteria and other organisms that can cause you to become sick.
Maintaining the proper level of sanitizer in your water (1-3ppm if using chlorine, 3-5ppm if using bromine) eliminates the risk of you getting sick as no bacteria can survive those levels of sanitizer.
To ensure that you don’t get sick simply test the water with a home test kit every 2-3 days, or before every use. If the sanitizer level is low, add some powdered chlorine or bromine to the water, wait 30 minutes for it to fully incorporate in the water, and test again. Repeat if needed.
If you find that your hot tub sanitizer levels are always low, slowly increase the amount of sanitizer that you add to the water every week until you’re able to maintain the recommended level.
Public Hot Tubs
Maintaining a good sanitizer level is easy in your own hot tub, but what about public hot tubs? How can you tell if a public hot tub is safe to use without being able to test the water? While you can’t directly test a public hot tub for sanitizer (without bringing your test strips with you that is), there are a few signs that there isn’t enough in the water. These are:
The surface of the hot tub feels slippery/slimy.
The first place that bacteria will build up is on the surface of the hot tub, below the water line. As bacteria multiplies it builds up a layer of slime to protect itself. A sure sign that there is bacteria in the water (and thus a low sanitizer level) is that the surface of the hot tub has a slippery or slimy feel to it.
The water is foamy.
Foamy water in a public hot tub is a clear sign that the water is low on sanitizer. It is worth noting though that there is a difference between bubbles and foam. All hot tubs will get some bubbles on the surface of the water due to air being introduced through the jets. In a well maintained hot tub, these bubbles will be minimal and will quickly disappear once the jets are turned off.
If bubbles build up on each other and don’t quickly go away once the jets are turned off then you’re dealing with foam. Public hot tubs with a large buildup of foam should be avoided as they likely do not have enough sanitizer in them.
The water has a musty smell.
Water with a strong musty or mouldy smell should be avoided as this is usually a sign that there is bacteria in the water.
Concern #3: Hot Tubs Are A Slip And Fall Risk
Another common hot tub health and safety concern is that they are a slip and fall risk; especially for seniors. While a wet surface will always be slipperier then a dry surface, the risk isn’t as great as it once was. Most of the top hot tub manufacturers now include safety features such as grab handles and textured floors to reduce the risk of someone slipping and falling. Additional accessories such as textured entrance steps and pool-style grab rails can further help to reduce your risk if you are more susceptible to falls.