Increase in hot tub injuries raises concern for children

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
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New findings show that over the past two decades, injuries from hot tubs have been increasing. A national study conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital found that hot tub injuries increased from 2,500 to more than 6,600 injuries per year between 1990 and 2007. Most injuries occur in those over age sixteen, but children are especially at risk for serious injury.

The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, shows that half of hot tub injuries are from slipping or falling. The most common injuries were cuts, head injuries and trauma to the lower extremities. Most of the injuries happened among individuals over age 16.

Study author Lara McKenzie, PhD, principal investigator at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital says the study raises concerns for the safety of children. Hot tubs have become popular, but could pose risks to children from drowning and injuries from jumping.

Near drowning in the hot tub was the most common injury in children under age six. Children age six to twelve sustain injury from diving and jumping around. Suction drains have been found to cause the most severe injuries and include drowning, body entrapment, and entanglement.

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Dr. MacKenzie says, "Although some steps have been taken to make hot tubs safer, increased prevention efforts are needed.”

Suggestions to prevent hot tub injuries include:

• Setting the temperature no greater than 104 degrees
• Limit time spent in the hot tub to no more than fifteen minutes
• Keep hot tubs covered and locked when unused to prevent injuries to children
• Comply with suction cover standards set by the Federal government
• Put a fence or barrier around the hot tub to discourage children from playing
• Do not let your children jump or dive in the hot tub

The study shows that hot tubs are becoming more popular, and with their popularity, injuries are also on the rise. The study authors are particularly concerned about hot tub injuries that occur among children, recommending increased safety efforts to curb hot tub related injuries, including near drowning in children and severe injury from non-compliance with suction cover standards.

Nationwide Children’s Hospital

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