Just booked a Holiday Home with a hot-tub? Have you given any thought with regards to whether it actually complies with the legal requirements for a rental?
Be prepared to be horrified and read on!
Sat in a hot-tub on the decking of your lovely rented Holiday Home with a glass or two of bubbly sounds just perfect doesn't it? But how safe are you?
Any hot-tub or spa installed on a rental property (ie: a Holiday Home) is legally required to follow the HSW Act regulations (Health and Safety at Work), which most guests are not aware of and sadly neither are the majority of the owners. If these regulations are not followed:- quite simply the owner is breaking UK legislation by renting to you, and you are putting yourself and your family at risk by using it during your stay.
A private hot-tub installed for friend and family use only, (ie: on your patio at home), does not have to comply with these regulations. However, if you have rented the property:- these regulations MUST be complied with.
The HSW Act sets out very defined recommendations which should be followed to keep within the legal requirements. (You can download a free full copy of the regulations by clicking here)
The basics for a Holiday Home rental with a hot-tub are shown below:
- Water clarity must be checked at least twice daily
- Dosing system must be checked daily
- Chemical resevoir must be checked daily
- Ph value and disinfectant levels must be checked at least twice daily
- Water-line must be checked daily and and cleaned as appropriate, but at a minimum water replacement
- Overflow channels, skimmers and the hot-tub surround must be checked daily and cleaned as appropriate but at a minimum water replacement
- A full drain of the tub, and a clean of the entire system, including strainers, and then a fresh refill should be done between EVERY rental, or at least weekly - whichever is the shorter.
- Cartridge filter must be replaced with a cleaned cartridge after every water replacement (see above)
- Strainers and grilles should be inspected at every water replacement (see above)
- Filter cartridge should be checked, cleaned, disinfected and dried between every rental, or at least weekly - whichever is the shorter.
ALL of these are the owner's responsibility to have carried out before, during and after your hot-tub-holiday. So if they haven't made arrangements for the daily tasks listed above to be processed during your stay: they are breaking their legal obligations by renting the property to you.
The risks of inadequate maintenance on a hot-tub are not pleasant, including Legionnaires’ disease which can be potentially fatal.
Legionella is the bacteria that forms in poorly maintained hot-tubs or spas and when infected water droplets are inhaled, it will cause Legionnaires’ disease. People can get Legionnaires’ disease when they breathe in small droplets of water in the bubbles that contains the bacteria: you don’t even need to physically be in the water if Legionella is present. It thrives in water between 20-60 degrees. It cannot be passed on from person-to-person.
This is a potentailly fatal illness.
So if you decide to go ahead and use your holiday-hot-tub without ensuring the relevant regulations have been followed.... please make yourself aware of the symptoms shown to the left and seek medical attention as soon as possible if necessary.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa, can result in an infection called Pseudomonas folliculitis, or "hot-tub rash." This is an infection of the hair follicles, commonly seen in people who bathe in a contaminated spa or hot-tub. It comes in the form of itchy bumps and puss filled blisters around the hair follicles.
Shigellosis and E.Coli are also spread by poorly maintained hot-tubs, plus dirty bodies getting in and out of them. These common strains of bacteria can cause stomach pain, fever, and diarrhoea.
Crypto is a very common water-bourne disease and is caused by ingesting a microscopic parasite called Cryptosporidium. Because the parasite has a hard outer shell, it's tolerant to chlorine. If infected, symptoms include diarrhoea, fever, and vomiting.
Giardia is another common parasite found in contaminated water and is also chlorine-tolerant. Symptoms include diarrhoea, dehydration, and stomach and abdominal cramps.
The chemicals used in hot-tubs can be extremely dangerous if not handled correctly and good hot-tub conditions are not easy to maintain. Most hot-tubs use chlorine or bromine, which have links to causing asthma and can be carcinogenic, as they release harmful by-products that can be inhaled or absorbed.
There are precautions that should be taken by the users, but are often forgotten about once the glasses of bubbly are flowing and you have your holiday-head on:
Hot-tub users should shower before getting in the tub: the average person has around a gram of faeces in their gluteal fold, (basically, your butt-cheeks!), which then obviously ends up in the water.
If you have five or six people in the hot tub at once, who haven't showered: that's five or six grams of faecal matter you are sitting in ..... and imagine how much that could be if your owner hasn't followed the maintenance regulations shown above?
When urine and other waste, such as sweat, mixes with chlorine, it creates an irritant called chloramine, which is what causes red, stinging eyes when swimming. So it’s really important to not use the hot-tub as a toilet!
Always shower after using a hot-tub to ensure that bacteria isn’t left sitting on your skin.
- Hot tubs are not recommended for children under five to use, as small children have a different body temperature regulation system and can’t cope with the heat.
- Do not exceed the maximum number of people permitted, as this can put strain on the hot-tub's chemical and filtration system which can result in illness from contact with the bacteria.
- Do not eat, drink or smoke in the tub as food and drink are potential nutrients for bacteria.
- More thermal burns are associated with water than with fire. Experts recommend that adults spend no more than 15 minutes, max, in a hot-tub at any given time.
- During pregnancy, hot-tubs should be used cautiously or preferably: not at all. Water temperature in the hot tub should never exceed 104F (40C). Sitting in hot water can easily raise the body temperature, which can cause health issues for you and your developing baby. There are serious concerns associated with using hot tubs in pregnancy, the general consensus is that they should only be used carefully and for limited amounts of time, if at all.
IF your owner has followed all the regulations in place, you can have a lovely hot-tub-holiday: But PLEASE ask what maintenance-measures are in place for it BEFORE you book. Quite simply, if you don't have someone attending to your hot-tub on a daily basis during your stay:- it may not be safe for you to use.