Hot Tubs

Man sitting in a hot tub

Hot tub operator staff and health departments alone cannot prevent all recreational water illnesses in hot tubs. Public hot tub users can take extra HOT steps (Heed, Observe, and Talk) to lead the way in protecting themselves and their families.

Heed…hot tub rules for safe and healthy use.

  • Don’t enter a hot tub when you have diarrhea.
  • Don’t swallow hot tub water or even get it into your mouth.
  • Shower or bathe with soap before entering the hot tub.
  • Observe limits, if posted, on the maximum allowable number of bathers.
  • Don’t let children less than 5 years of age use hot tubs.
  • Don’t drink alcohol before entering the hot tub or during hot tub use.
  • If pregnant, consult a physician before hot tub use, particularly in the first trimester

Observe…and listen to the hot tub and its surroundings. What should you notice?

  • No odor; a well-chlorinated hot tub has little odor. A strong chemical smell indicates a maintenance problem.
  • Smooth hot tub sides; tiles should not be sticky or slippery.
  • Hot tub equipment is working; pumps and filtration systems make noise and you should hear them running.
  • Hot tub temperature; the water temperature should not exceed 104°F (40°C)
  • Check the hot tub water; test for adequate free chlorine (3–10 parts per million or ppm) or bromine (4–8 ppm) and pH (7.2–7.8) levels using hot tub test strips.

Talk…to hot tub owners/staff and other hot tub users.

  • What was the health inspector’s grade for the hot tub after its last inspection?
  • Are chlorine and pH levels checked at least twice per day?
  • Are these levels checked during times when the hot tub is most heavily used?
  • Are trained operation staff available during the weekends when the hot tub is most heavily used?
  • What specialized training did the staff take to prepare for working at or operating a hot tub?
  • Learn about RWIs and educate other users and your hot tub operator.
  • Urge your hot tub management to spread the word about RWIs to hot tub staff and users.
Page last reviewed: April 2, 2022