A soak in a hot, bubbling outdoor hot tub or in-ground spa is relaxing at any time of year, but in cold weather, it can feel especially good as the water warms your body. However, additional care is needed to keep safe in a spa or hot tub during the fall and winter seasons.
Regular precautions for spa and hot tub use, such as proper water disinfection, should be followed year-round. When the mercury outside dips low, additional precautions are needed. Here are three key ones to follow for safe enjoyment of a warm, aquatic escape.
First, if your hot tub or spa has a lid or cover, carefully remove it: Depending on the lid or cover condition—such as ice or snow piled on it—you may want to take this initial step only after donning winter gloves.
Remember the adage about never licking a flagpole in freezing weather? Be absolutely sure that you completely sweep off any ice or snow before removing the lid or cover. Otherwise, ice or snow could have an unhappy meeting with some water—falling into the spa or hot tub or getting just wet enough to freeze up on the cover or lid (or around your hands).
In spring and summer, getting out of your spa or hot tub does not usually present a temperature shock to your body. That’s not the case when it’s chilly out.
Therefore, in advance of settling into hot bubbling bliss, prepare for the time when your soak will end. Have a dry, fluffy bathrobe or towel nearby within arm’s reach.
If the ground outside is cold or damp, place the robe or towel on a chair, stand, or and/or wrap it in plastic or another cover to keep it from getting cold or wet. The same goes for bath slippers or plastic shoes that will protect your warm, wet feet from any outdoor elements. If you are enjoying a soak with others, be sure that they have comparable items to avoid a chill when they exit the water.
Another precaution: If there is ice or hard freeze on any surface you will be walking on, be especially careful about walking to and away from your spa or hot tub; wear shoes or slippers with a good tread. This is particularly important for when you are leaving the hot water and making a quick dash across your yard to get inside your warm house.
Last but not least: Make sure that your hands are completely dry before you touch a metal doorknob or latch to go inside your home—or your skin could freeze to the metal!
Anytime you use a spa or hot tub, water temperature is vital. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, water should never exceed 104 degrees Fahrenheit. While immersed in warm water, your body can’t properly regulate its temperature through perspiration.
If water temperature is too high, or, if you remain in it for too long, the dangers are real: You could suffer a heat stroke, become light-headed and faint, or can become drowsy, which may lead to unconsciousness, resulting in drowning.
In cold weather, you may be more likely to raise the temperature to an unsafe level or to remain too long. Don’t. Another cold-weather caution: Your head and shoulders that remain exposed to chilly air may also confuse your sense of internal temperature; you may be hotter than you realize.
Be conservative. When it’s frosty outside, limit your water temperature to 100 degrees and keep your soak time to 15 minutes—and that’s if you are a healthy adult without any conditions or any medications that could impact how your body responds to high temperatures.
It’s also important to not rely solely on the spa or hot tub thermostat for a temperature read. Instead, double check how hot the water actually is by using a pool thermometer.
Another tip about temperature: Wear a winter hat. A knitted beanie or cold-weather cap may seem like odd gear for a hot soak. However, a hat will actually help you regulate body temperature.