Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Dangers of spas for children




Suddenly there is a flurry of moment from the life guards towards the spa.

A surprised parent looks up as they are called to.

"I sorry sir/mam you can't take your child in there. It's just too dangerous" says the life guard.

"really?" says the parent "I didn't realize."

And there in lies the problem, most people just don't realize that the spa is not the place for a child.

Whilst I can find nothing official from any authority body in Australia apart from fencing pools and strangely, there seems to be no specific guidelines issued for hot tub or spa use by children from either the American Association of Pediatrics nor the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are well known risks associated with them.

Children should never be left unsupervised around any body of water let alone hot tubs and spa pools are never safe for babies. It is too easy for a baby to slip out of a person's arms and drown. The soap that is used in some of them only enhances a baby's slipperiness.

Aside from the high risk of drowning associated with turbulent water, babies, Infants and toddlers (that is new borns to 4 years of age) should not use a hot tub at all due to the risk of overheating and dehydration.

Yes I know I get stares of disbelief all the time form people when I say that everybody sweats even in water. That's why you should drink plenty when you are swimming or you risk dehydration.

So if you as a adult are at risk of dehydration you have accept just how much higher is the risk of children doing the same as their bodies are so much smaller.

For older children access may be acceptable for short periods of time if the temperature is carefully checked. Most hot tubs are preset to reach 104 (40 C) degrees, but 102 (38.9 deg C) is a safer setting and 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.

The acceptable age of children using hot tub and spas is often simple defined as: "Spas should not be used for children until they are able to sit in the spa by themselves with their head well above the water level".

Given those recommendation are all very tentative isn't it best to err on they side of caution and just keep the kids out?

Other safety precautions with hot tub use include:

Hot tubs should be equipped with locking covers to reduce the high risk of drowning associated with such a body of water.

There are covers available that decrease the risk of hair entanglement in the suction pipes. There are disturbing drowning statistics to do with the entanglement of hair in suction pipes. Even with covers children should not be allowed to go underwater or play in any way that would bring their hair near the suction or drain cover.

If you have an older hot tub you should consider buying a newer one. Newer hot tubs are equipped with two outlets for each pump, reducing the suction if one outlet is blocked.

You should know the location of the cut-off switch so the pump can be turned off in an emergency.

Keep your hot tub super clean as the bubbles and steam can carry germs into the baby's airways which could cause serious illness. The heated water of spas is a great place for bacteria and other bugs to grow. No one likes to hear this but even some of the best maintained are at risk of some very bacteriological issues that most adults are completely immune to.

If water is left in the spa and reused, the extra treatment needed to keep germ levels acceptable (such as even higher levels of chlorine) makes the water even more irritating to babies' and children's sensitive skin and eyes..

In short don't ever put babies or infants in a hot-tub or Spa. Not even your one at home, let alone a commercial one like the ones at your local open to the public pool. And consider the risks very carefully before you let older children in.

You are not being smart if you convince yourself that it is ok to put your baby or toddler into hot turbulent water using one of the many stupid responses that life guard have to deal with. If you think you are, then consider how smart you would feel if you were looking at your drowned child.

Richard

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