Hot Tub Safety Tips for the Whole Family

Here's how to keep adults, kids and pets safe in and around a hot tub.

A hot tub can be a great addition to any home. If you’re considering one, make sure to check out our roundup of the best hot tubs of 2020!

But like swimming pools, hot tubs pose some risks. They include overheating, electrical shock, infections and, of course, drowning. Here’s how to keep everyone safe in and around the water.

Hot Tub Safety Tips for Kids

  • Keep infants and toddlers out. The Pool & Hot Tub Alliance recommends this for two reasons: Very young children have thin skin that makes them prone to overheating, and any potty mishaps they have will instantly contaminate the hot tub. Only potty-trained children who can stand on the bottom of the tub with their head completely clear above the water should be allowed in.

  • Limit how long kids stay in. The Pool & Hot Tub Alliance also recommends restricting kids’ tub time to five minutes if it’s at the maximum recommended temperature of 104 degrees F. Kids can go in for up to 15 minutes if the temperature is 98 F or lower, but even then it’s best to restrict their entry to no more than waist high.

  • Never leave them alone. In their Pool Safety educational campaign, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reminds adults to always supervise children when they’re in or near any kind of water. Designate a “Water Watcher,” an adult specifically tasked with watching the kids. Supervising should be the Water Watcher’s sole focus, so no reading, texting or playing on a phone while on duty. Finally, any supervising adult should learn how to perform CPR on children and adults in the event of an emergency.

  • Install drain covers. The Pool Safety campaign also reminds hot tub owners to install drain covers or grates over drains and suction outlets. They stop entrapment of kids’ limbs, hair, clothing and more that could lead to a drowning. (It’s also a good idea to teach kids to avoid the drain area.)

Hot Tub Safety Tips for Pets

  • Keep pets out. Dogs may love the water, but a hot tub is not a safe place for pets. One reason is that they can easily become overheated, which could lead to heat stroke or even death. There’s also the risk they could become sick from drinking chlorinated water. Finally, it’s not hygienic to have animals in your hot tub.

  • Secure the premises. Help prevent pets (as well as kids) from accessing the hot tub by securing the area. The Pool Safety educational campaign from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission suggests installing a locking cover, alarm, and a barrier such as a self-closing, self-latching gate to keep critters and kids away. It’s also a good idea to keep any chemicals and cleaning agents locked away to prevent accidental poisonings.

  • Learn pet CPR. Accidents can happen even when you take every precaution. For that reason, it’s a good idea to learn how to perform CPR on dogs and cats in case they stop breathing after falling in the water. The Red Cross offers classes and online directions on how to perform pet CPR.

General Hot Tub Safety Tips

  • Keep it clean. A dirty hot tub can harbor bacteria and other germs that can lead to infections. Keep yours clean by using tester strips to monitor the pH (it should be between 7.4 and 7.6), alkalinity (between 80 and 120 ppm), calcium (between 150 and 250 ppm) and chlorine levels (at least three ppm) at least twice a week. Don’t invite more people in than the hot tub’s recommended limit. And always shower before getting in.

  • Avoid alcohol. Alcohol dehydrates you, which is exactly what you don’t want when you’re in a hot environment. What’s more, it can also raise your body temperature to dangerous levels because it expands your blood vessels. That can cause you to pass out and even drown. For these reasons, skip the alcohol and sip good-for-you water instead.

  • Monitor the temperature. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a maximum hot tub temperature of 104 F for healthy adults. However, 100 F is a comfortable but healthier temperature worth considering. Those with a medical condition should go even lower (and check in with their medical provider before using a hot tub). No matter which safe temperature you choose, it’s best to limit your tub time to 10 minutes to prevent overheating.

  • Follow electrical safety guidelines. The National Fire Protection Agency recommends the following electrical safety guidelines:

    • Have an electrician install and periodically inspect all electrical equipment in and around the tub.

    • Install a ground-fault circuit interrupter outlet or circuit breaker to prevent electric shock and electrocution.

    • Keep electrical cords, equipment and appliances at least six feet away from water.

    • Never handle electrical equipment when you’re wet.

Amanda Prischak
Amanda Prischak is a freelance writer based in Erie, Pennsylvania.