Vacation Rental Units with Spas: How to Keep Your Child Safe
Renting a vacation home with a spa (or hot tub) can be one of the highlights for any family vacation. However, some parents are unaware of the safety issues associated with small children, hot water, and sanitizing products. This fact sheet is designed to inform parents of those safety issues.
1. Floating chlorine feeders, chlorine tablets or sticks or other sanitizers can be dangerous to a small child.
Many spas in vacation rental homes are disinfected using floating devices that release chemicals to kill bacteria and destroy other contaminants. These floating devices often contain Trichlor, a chlorine sanitizer. Some contain a bromine sanitizing compound. Chlorine and bromine can cause throat, eye, nose and lung irritation when the fumes are inhaled, or nausea and stomach irritation when consumed.
Keep your child away from all spa disinfectants. Remove the feeder or sticks and put them out of reach of your child before using the spa. Replace the feeders or sticks to the spa when your child is done with the spa. If you suspect your child has ingested or inhaled a dangerous amount of spa compounds, call the Poison Center immediately at 1-800-222-1222.
2. A child needs constant supervision near spas.
When a child is in a spa, adults must keep him or her in sight at all times. Adults should never read, eat, talk on the phone, consume alcohol, or leave the spa area when a child is in the water. For a child who can’t swim, adults must remain within "touching reach" of the child. Have a phone nearby. And, don’t allow your child to enter a spa or hot tub that has a drain cover that is loose, broken or missing. If a spa does not look safe, don’t use it! Find another activity for your child.
3. Hot spa water can be dangerous to your child.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a small child does not use a hot tub or spa due to the dangers of overheating. A child can overheat within minutes in hot water. Temperatures higher than 101o F. can be dangerous. Symptoms of overheating include nausea, dizziness, and headache.
4. Pregnant women should be aware of the danger of overheating their fetus.
While you may not feel hot, the fetus can be suffering and can be seriously injured, causing birth defects. Injury can happen at temperatures as low as 103o F. Overheating can happen within minutes.
5. Lock spa covers when done.
Drowning is the second leading cause of death for a child under age 5. Make sure that you close and lock the spa cover, set door alarms, and close and lock gates to spa area once you’re done. Creating barriers to water is a proven strategy to prevent unintentional drowning.
6. Monitor your child after time spent in a rental spa.
Sometimes illness takes time to show symptoms. If you notice your child has significant trouble breathing call 911. For complaints of eye, skin or throat irritation, as well as other questions and concerns, contact the Poison Center (1-800-222-1222). Do not induce vomiting which can result in more discomfort for the child.
Oregon's Hazardous Substances Incident Surveillance Program
Oregon's Food, Pool, Lodging Health and Safety Section
Oregon Poison Center
Safe Kids Oregon
This document was supported by funds from the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) trust fund provided to the Oregon Office of Environmental Public Health under Cooperative Agreement #U61/TS000130-02 from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.