Whether you refer to it as a hot tub, spa, or a brand name such as Jacuzzi, a vat of circulating heated water can be soothing to aching muscles. Unfortunately, these bodies of chlorinated water can also be extremely dangerous, particularly to children. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports more than 700 hot tub deaths in a relatively short span of years. With the recent surge in hot tub popularity due to the COVID lockdowns, the risk of injuries from hot tubs increases.
Consumers should be aware of what to do to stay safe and know that if they suffer injuries due to mismanagement, product defects, or other negligence, they have options for recovery. A Tallahassee personal injury lawyer could evaluate the circumstances to determine whether they are entitled to compensation for pain, suffering, and other losses stemming from hot tub injuries. Where hot tub problems lead to an untimely death, family members could recover through a wrongful death claim.
Hot Tub Entrapment Injuries
Some of the most deadly injuries in spas and hot tubs involve cases of entrapment caused by suction. According to the CPSC, suction injuries can cause drowning and disembowelment, particularly in young children.
Pipes leading from the hot tub suck water into the filter continuously to clean the water. If something blocks the drain leading to one of these pipes, the suction increases as the pump pulls water past the obstruction. The increased suction can trap the body and cause an accident victim to be held underwater. When a child sits too close to a drain pipe, the suction can actually lead to disembowelment.
An individual’s hands, feet, or fingers can become entrapped, as well as accessories and jewelry. Even hair can become entrapped by suction. Children are particularly vulnerable to suction accidents in hot tubs because they lack the strength to find against the force. However, even strong full-grown adults can prove powerless to fight the force of suction, and entrapment can quickly lead to death or serious injuries by drowning.
The horrific nature of hot tub entrapment deaths led the federal government to pass specific safety legislation to prevent these injuries, the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act. However, even decades after the provisions were signed into law by the president, a Tallahassee personal injury lawyer knows that suction injuries remain a serious risk for hot tub users.
Slip and Fall Injuries Related to Hot Tubs
Far less attention has been paid to the prevalence of slip and fall injuries associated with hot tub use. Up to half of all hot tub injuries are caused by users slipping and falling. Injuries in slip and fall incidents range from mild bruising to traumatic brain injuries and drownings.
Any wet surface can be slippery, but the materials used to manufacture spas and hot tubs can be particularly slick. The owners of property where a hot tub is situated should take safety precautions to prevent falls, such as installing grab bars and non-slip surfaces adjacent to the tub. In-ground tubs provide a great risk of injury because they are often made of concrete. A user or even someone walking nearby could slip and fall, suffering a head injury that causes them to lose consciousness and drown.
While above-ground units do not have the same dangers, users can be at risk using steps or other devices to enter or exit the tub. If these devices are not properly stabilized, users can slip and suffer severe injuries.
Other Injury Risks Posed by Hot Tubs
The environment in a hot tub can be dangerous for a variety of reasons. In addition to the risk of suction injuries and falls, the heat from the water can cause serious burns and other injuries.
Overheated water can raise the body temperature to the point where a user’s body is not able to regulate internal temperature, and heat stroke results. Pregnant women who immerse themselves in a hot tub can cause brain damage to the fetus due to the heat from the water. The heat also often causes users to become drowsy, and those who fall asleep can drown. The use of certain medications or alcohol increases this risk. Individuals with heart conditions, high blood pressure, diabetes or other medical conditions can suffer a stroke or other incident triggered by the hot water.
The chemical environment of a hot tub can be delicate and dangerous. If the tub owner does not keep chemicals balanced properly, users can suffer chemical burns. If the chemical level does not adequately disinfect the water, the heat can cause dangerous microorganisms to grow rapidly, which could lead to serious illness.
Protect Yourself Around Hot Tubs
To avoid the risk of injuries when using a hot tub, a Tallahassee personal injury lawyer directs users to review the guidelines issued by the CPSC. These include:
- Always keep a locked cover in place when a hot tub is not in use
- Supervising young children when they are in the vicinity of a hot tub
- Regularly having the hot tub checked by a professional to ensure drain covers are seated properly and not cracked and that all devices are working properly
- Knowing where the cut-off switch is located so you can cut the power in an emergency
- Keeping the temperature at 102 or below and checking the temperature with a separate thermometer before entering the water
When the owner of a hot tub fails to maintain the device properly and users are injured as a result, the owner may be held liable for the harm they suffer.
A Tallahassee Personal Injury Lawyer Could Help You Recover Compensation After a Hot Tub Accident
Property owners add hot tubs to their premises because they are popular. A hot tub offers a way to attract residents to apartment complexes and hotels. But owners have a duty to keep their premises safe and that includes establishing a safe and well-maintained environment in and around a hot tub. When they fail to fulfill that duty, it is only fair to hold them liable for injuries that result.
If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a hot tub, an experienced Tallahassee personal injury lawyer at Searcy Denney could review the circumstances and determine whether you may be eligible for compensation for pain, suffering, and other losses. We also help slip and fall victims in Pensacola and Fort Walton Beach. Contact us today for a free case evaluation and consultation to learn more.