We’ve been talking about how great hot tubs are for a couple of articles now. And while all of those health benefits are undeniable, we’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about two very crucial points — hot tub safety and hot tub hygiene.
Today, we’ll cover some unsavory aspects of public bathing and what you can do to avoid any potential problems (and more reasons it’s better to buy your own – if at all possible).
Are Hot Tubs Safe?
The main safety issues with hot tubs are things like bad wiring – that’s why we recommend you have yours installed (or at least checked) by a professional. Another worry is getting into and out of the tub. There will be water, it will be slippery, and if I’m around, there will be alcohol. So accidents are going to happen.
Minimize these with judicious placing of hand rails, rubber matting, and the like, so you can grip something when you get in the tub. And if you’re going to drink alcohol in the tub, always use plastic glasses. Shattering glass is not only a health hazard (obviously) but if ANY glass gets into the jet nozzles in your tub, the whole thing is basically ruined. Not worth the risk!
Finally, remember that the alcohol will hit you harder than normal when you’re in the tub, so don’t go crazy. A cold glass of bubbly will really hit the spot, but more and you risk breaking your neck trying to clamber out of the tub.
In terms of hygiene, when I think of hot tubs, the first thing that springs to mind is lots of people whose personal hygiene may not be the best sharing a confined, moist space, breathing in air containing a lot of water vapor…
People bring a lot of ick factor to any environment whether they mean to or not. In a hot-tub environment, one of the main ‘oh I’d rather not think about that’ factors is the fact that we all – even the cleanest of us – will have a small amount of fecal residue in our ‘special crevices’. In a hot tub with five people? Let’s just say you could measure the quantities in teaspoons.
Having a thorough shower before hopping in the tub can help minimize the level of personal germs and general ickiness that you bring to the party.
But there are some things a shower won’t help with. Use your common sense – such as not getting in a hot tub with a verruca, when it’s “that time of the month”, or if you have an infection (or, at least, not getting in the tub with other people at such times) will all help ensure people can enjoy the many benefits of a hot tub without putting themselves at too much risk.
Aside from the personal contaminants baggage we all carry with us, large bodies of hot water (and hot tubs definitely count here) have their own risk factors. We’re talking about the bacteria Ligonella, which causes Legionnaire’s Disease, a condition triggered by inhaling the bacteria which thrives in hot and moist environments.
Bodily fluids, including sweat, mixing with chlorine in a hot tub creates an irritant called chloramine which can irritate the respiratory system and cause red stinging eyes.
You can also pick up ‘Hot tub rash’, which is caused by the common germ Pseudomonas Aeruginosa. The infection takes the form of an itchy, bumpy rash, and pus-filled blisters at the hair follicles. It will usually clear up on its own, and the itching can be soothed by over-the-counter creams.
Protecting Against Infection
As well as ensuring you (and if possible, anyone you’ll be sharing the hot tub with) have showered before getting in the tub, it is important to remember not to swallow hot tub water. You can also purchase test strips very cheaply. These will quickly show you the levels of active disinfectants in a hot tub so you can make an informed decision as to whether you want to join the party or not.
Of course, if you own your own hot tub, whether a fitted or portable variety, you can control the environment for optimum hygiene making it a far safer option than a rented hot tub. With your own hot tub, you can ensure any guests shower appropriately before getting into the tub. You can keep children out, if you suspect they may, whether accidentally or deliberately, use the hot tub for a “bathroom break”. And you can easily and regularly test the levels of disinfectants in the water without feeling awkward about doing so.
- If you are pregnant, especially if you are in your first trimester, you should consult your physician before using a hot tub, and should definitely only be looking to use your own, private hot tub, at your own home, so that you can readily address any infection issues.
- Make sure you don’t over crowd the hot tub with people.
- Young children shouldn’t be allowed into hot tubs.
- Ensure everyone using the hot tub has bathing costumes on.
- Do not get hot tub water in, or near, your mouth.
- Ensure the hot tub is properly disinfected before every use.
It might seem like a lot of worry and hassle, but of course that’s the opposite of the truth. Take some precautions, use your common sense, and enjoy the warm water and relaxing bubbles.