NCH LogoPresently, hot tubs, whirlpools and spas are known to be widely used for relaxation and fun. However they could possibly pose severe risk for injury. Atleast this is what a latest study conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital claims.

Over the past two decades, hot tubs as recreational use seem to have increased tremendously, so has the number of injuries. According to the study, from the year 1990-2007, the number of unintentional hot tub-related injuries appears to have increased by 160 percent, from nearly 2,500 to more than 6,600 injuries each year.

The study authors were believed to have collected data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), which is operated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Supposedly, the NEISS dataset provides information on consumer product-related and sports and recreation-related injuries treated in hospital emergency departments all over the country. This study is known to be the foremost one to have reported national estimates, rates and trends of hot tub-related injuries for all ages treated in United States emergency departments.

The findings of the study revealed that approximately 73 percent of the patients with hot tub-related injuries were believed to have been older than 16 years. Also, about one half of all injuries seem to have resulted from slips and falls. Moreover, lacerations appear to have been the most often reported injuries i.e. 28 percent and the lower extremities i.e. 27 percent and the head comprising 26 percent was the most frequently injured body parts.

“While the majority of injuries occurred among patients older than 16, children are still at high risk for hot tub-related injuries. Due to the differing mechanisms of injury and the potential severity of these injuries, the pediatric population deserves special attention,” says study author Lara McKenzie, PhD, chief investigator at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Amongst children younger than 6 years, near-drowning was noted to be the most prevalent mechanism of injury. Apparently, it accounted for more than two-thirds of injuries. Whereas children ages between 6 to 12 years may be more prone to be injured by jumping and diving in or around a hot tub.

Furthermore, some of the most severe hot tub-related injuries associated with suction drains namely entanglement, body entrapment and drowning appear to be predominately seen in children. In order to assist in preventing these serious injuries, legislation mandating certain standards for suction covers was believed to have been passed in the year 2007.

“Although some steps have been taken to make hot tubs safer, increased prevention efforts are needed,” says Dr. McKenzie, also a faculty member of The Ohio State University College of Medicine.

It was observed that recommendations to prevent hot tub-related injuries included introducing slip resistant surfacing in and around the hot tub. Also, included was limiting time and temperature of hot tub exposure to 10-15 minutes at no more than 104° F.

In addition, to prevent injuries to children, parents may require to keep hot tubs covered and locked when not in use and consider installing a fence or barrier around the area, set rules prohibiting jumping and diving, and obey with suction cover standards.

The findings of the study have been published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.