While the topics of water safety and drowning prevention typically receive some public attention during summer months, there are many people who prefer to use hot tubs, whirlpools and spas throughout the winter, when the weather is at its coldest. Although winter can be one of the most enjoyable seasons for hot tub use, it is equally dangerous. To help prevent personal injuries related to hot tubs, whirlpools and spas, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) offers the following historical data and recommendations for children and adults alike:
"Drownings — The main hazard from hot tubs and spas is the same as that from pools – drowning. Since 1990, CPSC has reports of more than 800 deaths in spas and hot tubs. About one-fifth of those were drownings to children under age five.
Hair Entanglement — Since 1990, CPSC has reports of 43 incidents (including 12 deaths) in which people’s hair was sucked into the suction fitting of a spa, hot tub, or whirlpool, causing the victim’s head to be held under water. Hair entanglement occurs when a bather’s hair becomes entangled in a drain cover as the water and hair are drawn through the drain.
Hot Tub Temperatures — CPSC knows of several deaths from extremely hot water (approximately 110 degrees Fahrenheit) in a spa. High temperatures can cause drowsiness which may lead to unconsciousness, resulting in drowning. In addition, raised body temperature can lead to heat stroke and death.
Bodypart Entrapment — CPSC knows of 74 incidents since 1990 in which parts of the body have been entrapped by the strong suction of the drain of pools, wading pools, spas, and hot tubs. Of these, two resulted in disembowelment and 13 other people died."
If you or someone you know plans to enjoy a hot tub, whirlpool or spa this winter, take time to familiarize yourself with the following safety recommendations, courtesy of CPSC:
"1. Always use a locked safety cover when the spa is not in use and keep young children away from spas or hot tubs unless there is constant adult supervision.
2. Make sure the spa has the dual drains and drain covers required by current safety standards.
3. Regularly have a professional check your spa or hot tub and make sure it is in good, safe working condition, and that drain covers are in place and not cracked or missing. Check the drain covers yourself throughout the year.
4. Know where the cut-off switch for your pump is so you can turn it off in an emergency.
5. Be aware that consuming alcohol while using a spa could lead to drowning.
6. Keep the temperature of the water in the spa at 104 degrees Fahrenheit or below."
Previously on the DC Metro Area Personal Injury Law Blog, we have posted articles related to:
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