Don’t fall victim to hot tub hell

Legionella bacteria

In Legionella

As eBay reports hot tub orders rose by 1,080% in April, and 276% year-on-year from 22 March to 6 June, a leading public health charity is warning of the dangers posed by contracting Legionnaires’ disease from hot tubs, spa baths and even garden hoses as the blazing summer heat continues.

With temperatures soaring and families grounded at home due to coronavirus, it seems the nation has gone potty for hot tubs. The Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE) is raising alerts that the combination of warm weather and sitting (stagnant) water creates the perfect environment for Legionella bacteria to grow. Legionella is the cause of a potentially fatal form of pneumonia, Legionnaires’ disease, which is contracted by inhaling tiny water droplets.

Kevin Wellman, CEO of the CIPHE commented, “While all man-made hot and cold water systems can provide an environment ripe for the Legionella bacteria to multiply, not everyone realises it can also thrive in places such as hot tubs, whirlpool baths, compost heaps and even garden hoses. The growing popularity in hot tubs means that many more families now have a potential source of an outbreak within their own gardens.”

The CIPHE is right to be alarmed. Figures from Public Health England show a seasonal rise in cases from June to October. Kevin continued, “While we don’t want to spoil anyone’s fun, those purchasing hot tubs and spa baths need to be aware that these appliances must be correctly installed and maintained, while also being regularly cleaned and chlorinated. Harmful Legionella bacteria can incubate in as little as 2-10 days, meaning that those who let their maintenance and disinfection regime slip, could soon be at risk.”

“Additionally, there is no legislation covering domestic hot tub installations. With annual deaths caused by poor plumbing now outnumbering those caused by Carbon Monoxide poisoning, the general public need to be made aware of the dangers that poorly designed or maintained systems can bring.”

If you are considering installing a hot tub or spa bath, the CIPHE advises using a professional plumbing engineer for installation. The body also stresses the huge importance in following the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning, disinfection and maintenance.

“Due to the use of different materials in tubs and baths, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ strategy for disinfecting and maintaining systems. It is vital that you follow your manufacturer’s instructions and are aware of all the costs involved in maintaining the product before you buy it. With yearly heating bills for some hot tubs hitting £600, don’t be tempted to cut corners and costs. The health of your family is not a risk worth taking.”

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