Last time I checked, it was still January (*weeps openly*). We're stuck in that weird weather limbo between the holidays and that time where the groundhog comes out to see his shadow. For those of us lucky or unlucky enough to live nestled near the Rockies, there is a lot of winter left to be had.
To cope, many of us have taken to our hot tubs for a nice warm soak where we can shut our eyes and imagine a place where we don’t have to scrape off our car windshields in the morning or shovel our driveways with every passing storm. In the depths of this deep winter freeze, many with kids and hot tubs have found themselves wondering: is my hot tub safe for kids? Here are some safety guidelines that will answer just that burning question.
When you go to hotels, they often have signs saying that no one under 12 is allowed in the spa. However the average consensus according to the Mayo Clinic, Red Cross, and the American Association of Pediatrics is that kids over five are welcome in the hot tub. You can let younger kids in your spa but you’ll need to follow a few extra guidelines like lowering the water temperature and limiting their soaking time. Keep in mind that it’s generally accepted that kids still in diapers should not be allowed inside a spa. For a plethora of obvious (and disgusting) reasons.
Again, the general agreement among those in the know is that kids should not be in a hot tub that exceeds 100 degrees, particularly if the little swimmers are under five. The younger they are, the less easily they are able to regulate their own internal temperature and are prone to overheating. Since a hot tub comes factory programmed to chug along at about 104 degrees Fahrenheit, make sure you turn down the temp ahead of time or open the cover long enough to let off some excess heat.
For the extra young’uns, make sure their dips aren’t lasting much longer than ten minutes. And the older rug rats? They can stay in for 10-20 as long as you keep a close watch.
Want a few extra dos and don’ts for the road? Of course you do!
Keep kids hydrated! Give each kid a water bottle to have by the side of the hot tub and make sure you remind them to take frequent sips so that they’re replenishing anything they may be sweating out. You can even make a game of it! Bring a stop watch and make them take a big long swig every one or two minutes that they’re in the hot tub. Give points to the kids who drink first and chug the longest.
Be mindful of the signs that kids are getting overheated in the hot tub: red faces, sluggish behavior, or glassed over eyes are a signal that the child is hyperthermic and needs to get out of the hot tub and cooled down gradually and rehydrated.
Stay Close! The only surefire way to make sure an accident doesn’t happen is if you’re keeping constant supervision whether that’s from inside the hot tub or sitting along the side. Something tells me you’ll have a lot more fun if you’re in the water and you can join in the fun.
Play games! Kids love the water because it’s so conducive to game playing. Bring in some float toys, rubber duckies, or waterproof playing cards to keep them occupied. Even if they don’t have much in the water with them, they’re likely to come up with a fun game. Kids’ imaginations are an amazing (and sometimes frightening) place.
Talk about safety! Before getting in the hot tub, make sure you talk with kids about the dos and don’ts of the hot tub. If you explain what might end up hurting them they’re less likely to test those boundaries. Make a special effort to remind them not to run or rough house in or around the spa and to not bring anything electronic into the water with them.
Don't let them submerge! Kids who have gone swimming in regular pools will find this a hard rule to abide by. However, kids are more likely to overheat if they’re sticking their head in 100 degree water. You can make this a game too! Come up with a funny or creepy story about why they aren’t allowed to go under. Whatever works.
Another danger with submersion is little girls run the risk of getting their hair caught in drains and jets which could turn into a potential drowning hazard. Taking the time to put little girls’ hair in a bun before getting in the hot tub is an excellent idea.
Ear infections are also a risk when kids dunk their heads under excessively hot water.
Don't leave your hot tub uncovered! There are a lot of really excellent reasons to keep your hot tub properly covered, some of which are to reduce heating costs, maintain cleanliness, and general safety. The latter should be of the utmost importance to you if you have little ones running around. Even if you have it covered, make sure you tell your kids it’s not safe to climb or jump on top of a hot tub cover.
There you have it! A good set of safety guidelines when taking your kids or grandkids into the hot tub with you. It can be such a fun place to play games and make memories, not to mention escape this never ending winter. I would cry more but I'm afraid my tears would freeze to my face.
Make sure to share this with your friends and family with hot tubs. Safety first!