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Spa Pools and Hot Tubs: Health, Safety and Hygiene

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 22 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Spa Pool Swimming Sauna Steam Room

Most spas have an area dedicated to hydrotherapy, and as its name suggests, hydrotherapy should be good for you! A swimming pool, and a Jacuzzi style spa pool are found in most spas, and it’s likely that you’ll want to try them out. What do you need to know before dipping a toe in the water?

Floating Away

Many spas now offer different forms of flotation, and this can be a hugely relaxing and therapeutic way to soothe aches and pains or just relax. However, it doesn’t suit everyone.

One way to experience a float is in a dedicated pool, although these are few and far between, so it is likely to be an expensive treat. Many spas offer a flotation tank instead, which is effective but not suitable for anyone who suffers from claustrophobia! The therapy may be called ‘Dead Sea’ flotation due to the fact that there will usually be a high concentration of salts and minerals in the water. For this reason, if you are thinking of booking one, you need to be careful that you don’t have any cuts or open sores because the salt is so concentrated that it will sting like nothing on earth!

In general, you should avoid flotation if:

  • You suffer from any mental disorders, even clinical depression
  • You have any sores or open wounds
  • You suffer from incontinence
  • People with epilepsy are advised to make sure they have someone with them during a session, although it’s rare for flotation to trigger an attack.

Some people with very high blood pressure have had such a reduction in their blood pressure that they’ve actually fainted, so if that sounds like you, make sure that you tell someone before you go for your therapy.

What’s in the water?

You can probably get a good idea about the hygiene of the pools by checking out the rest of the spa facilities. If the changing rooms are well looked after and tidy, the fitness areas seem well kept, and everything seems clean, the pools are likely to be in good condition too. Check that there’s no visible scum on the water in the Jacuzzi, and avoid using it if it’s overcrowded. If a pool looks grubby, steer clear.You need to be very careful about your pool hygiene – back in 2004 a survey of 88 heath clubs by the Health Protection Agency found that a staggering 26% of spa pools on the premises contained the bacteria responsible for Legionnaires disease.

There’s no easy way to tell if a pool contains lurking nasties, but go with your gut instinct and also check if the spa is a member of the Spa Business Association – the main trade association for spas. The association has been actively trying to introduce a rating system for spas in the UK, and advises on standards and accreditation, and you are probably quite safe with one of its members. Another name to look for is the British Swimming Pool Federation, an organisation that represents everyone in the pool industry from manufacturers to operators.

Pool Etiquette

There are certain (sometimes unspoken) rules that you should take heed of if you’re using any spa pool. These common sense measures help you make sure that you don’t take anything home with you that you didn’t bargain for – and also make the pool a nicer place to chill out in...for everyone!

  • Always wear a swimming costume in a pool, sauna or steam room
  • Shower before you get into the pool, sauna or steam rooms – get rid of any debris!
  • Shower when you leave the pool, sauna or steam rooms to get any chemicals washed off of your skin.
  • If you have long hair, wear a swimming cap in the pool.
  • Wear spa shoes/slippers when lounging around the pool area – a verucca isn’t the end of the world but they can be unpleasant to catch.
  • If you have athlete’s foot or anything contagious, use your common sense and give the pool a miss.
  • It’s actually very unusual for anyone to contract Legionnaires disease from a spa pool – so don’t let scare stories put you off these relaxing havens. A little attention to detail is all you need to enjoy a soak in safety...

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