MONDAY, Nov. 9, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- Hot-tub injuries have skyrocketed in the United States in recent years, rising by 160 percent between 1990 and 2007, a new study has found.
However, the total number of injuries related to hot tubs -- a category that includes whirlpools and spas -- remains fairly small at about 6,600 per year.
About half of the injuries were caused by slips and falls, according to the report published online Nov. 3 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. An estimated one in four injuries were in children under age 16.
The most common injuries were lacerations (28 percent). The lower extremities (27 percent) and head (26 percent) were the most likely body parts to be injured, the researchers found.
"While the majority of injuries occurred among patients older than 16, children are still at high risk for hot tub-related injuries," study author Lara McKenzie, principal investigator at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Ohio, said in a hospital news release. "Due to the differing mechanisms of injury and the potential severity of these injuries, the pediatric population deserves special attention."
Kids younger than 6 were most likely to experience near-drowning. Children aged 6 to 12 were at greatest risk from jumping or diving around a hot tub or inside one.
Suction drains have also caused serious injuries among children.
"Although some steps have been taken to make hot tubs safer, increased prevention efforts are needed," McKenzie said.
The researchers recommend that hot-tub owners use slip-resistant surfacing in and around the hot tub and limit use to no longer than 10 to 15 minutes.
Also, a hot tub shouldn't be hotter than 104 degrees Fahrenheit, and owners should take care to make sure children can't get access to hot tubs when they're not in use.
Learn more about hot-tub safety from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.