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When Can Grandchildren Use a Hot Tub or Spa?

No Uniform Guidelines, But Err on the Side of Caution

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When Can Grandchildren Use a Hot Tub or Spa? Photo © Photoeuphoria / Dreamstime

Question: When Is It Safe for My Grandchildren to Use a Hot Tub or Spa?

You've probably heard that small children should not use hot tubs or spas because they are less able than adults to dissipate the heat. If you have a hot tub or spa or are visiting a resort with such facilities, you may be wondering whether it is safe to allow your grandchildren to get in.

Answer:

The best answer is to follow the advice of your grandchildren's doctor. Neither the American Association of Pediatrics nor the Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued specific guidelines for hot tub or spa use by children. Here are some general guidelines, but consult a doctor for specific information:

  • Infants and toddlers should not use a hot tub at all due to the risk of overheating or dehydration.
  • Older children can be allowed in for short periods of time if the temperature has been carefully checked.
  • Most hot tubs are preset to reach 104 degrees, but 102 is a safer setting.
  • Recommendations for time limits for children range from 5 to 20 minutes, depending upon the age of the child and the temperature of the water.

Other, even more serious hazards are associated with hot tub use.

  • Drowning is the most serious hazard connected with any body of water, including hot tubs. Hot tubs should be equipped with locking covers. Children should never be left unsupervised around hot tubs.
  • Entanglement of hair in the suction fitting of a hot tub is another hazard that can result in drowning. Drain covers that reduce the danger of hair entanglement are available, but children should not be allowed to go underwater in a hot tub or play in any way that would bring their hair near the drain cover.
  • A similar danger is getting caught by the strong suction of a drain. Newer hot tubs are equipped with two outlets for each pump, reducing the suction if one outlet is blocked. Grandparents who own older hot tubs should consider buying a newer hot tub with two outlets. Dome-shaped drain covers also are available to reduce the suction that occurs with flat drain covers.
  • Owners of hot tubs and spas should know the location of the cut-off switch so the pump can be turned off in an emergency.
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