Hiring hot tubs for personal use has grown in popularity in recent years, with people taking advantage of short-term deals for weekend garden gatherings.
But Bill Abbott, Managing Director of UK water treatment specialists Hydrochem, has warned people to take care and be aware of the health risks.
He spoke out after being asked to carry out water tests on a hot tub which had been used by a man who recently spent six days a in a coma after picking up a mystery bug.
The victim is thankfully making a good recovery but Bill has warned others to make sure they take safety precautions before using hot tubs.
He said: “People hire these hot tubs for garden parties and barbecues without realising the dangers associated with them.
“If people hire or buy their own hot tub, it is vital they follow the safety instructions in terms of treating the water and using the right volume of chemicals.
“They should be testing the water every two hours with chemicals and treating with sanitiser to make sure the balance is right.
“People should shower before they get in the water, and then do the same when they get out. But when the hot tub is ready, the drinks are flowing in the garden and everyone is having a good time, the basic health issues tend to be forgotten about.”
Referring to the man who took ill, Bill added: “His mother was put in contact with us for advice after she became concerned. What had initially started as a sore throat turned into a virus, and he was eventually admitted to hospital after rapidly deteriorating.
“We tested the water before sending the sample off to a lab, and it was horrendous. The amount of bacteria was off the scale. If you think there are half a million bacteria in one millilitre of water, then multiply that and the numbers are astronomical.
“It turned out that the hot tub had been standing for a couple of days and this gentleman had jumped in and put his head under the water, and his illness could have stemmed back to that.”
Hydrochem, which is based on Graythorp Industrial Estate in Hartlepool, was set up in 1987 and is now the longest serving water treatment company in the North East of England.
The firm has an impressive list of clients, including Bannatyne’s, Bourne Leisure and the Marriott Hotel chain, and has teams of specialists working at sites across the UK on a daily basis.
The firm, which recently expanded its team by taking on four new engineers, specialises in inspecting water systems, diagnosing problems and then supplying solutions across the boilers, heaters, air conditioning units, pipeworks and other water-based equipment as well as the likes of swimming pools and spas.
Hydrochem also uses the innovative Safe-Water facility, which has been devised to include risk assessment of Legionella and other bacterial issues.
TOP FIVE SAFETY TIPS FOR HOT TUBS
When the hot tub arrives, make sure the chemicals to treat the water are supplied, read the instructions and check the filtration system is working.
As you are filling the hot tub, start the treatment as the water is flowing into it.
Take a shower before going in – and tell everyone else to do the same!
After two hours of use, test the water and check the levels are still acceptable. If they are too high, get out and change the water.
At the end of use, if you plan to re-use the hot tub the following day, empty half of the water and refill with fresh.