Why We Should Never Let Kids Swim Underwater in a Spa

A US mother recounts a distressing incident when her eight-year-old daughter nearly drowned in their home spa after her hair got entangled, reminding us all why we should never let kids swim underwater in a spa or hot tub.

Adrienne Exum described how her daughter, Elizabeth, was bathing in the jacuzzi when she urgently called for help.

Don’t let them swim underwater in a spa

Her parents rushed in and discovered Elizabeth trapped in the spa, her hair caught in the suction valve. Adrienne shared the incident on Facebook, emphasising the potential tragedy they narrowly avoided. Elizabeth had submerged to rinse her hair, and the suction valve quickly pulled her hair through the holes in the cover, holding her underwater.

Spa safety - why kids never swim underwater in spa
Source: Instagram

‘Never thought of something like this happening’ 

As the water wasn’t high enough to cover her mouth, Elizabeth was able to scream for help. Adrienne expressed gratitude that she and Elizabeth’s father, Jason, were in the room, preventing a different outcome.

After draining the water Jason delicately untangled Elizabeth’s hair without resorting to cutting it off.

“We’ve never even thought of something like this happening, and we want others to be aware,” she said, sharing the story to give other parents a heads-up.

The incident occurred in January 2020 but gained renewed attention when Australian paediatric nurse Sarah Hunstead, from the children’s safety page CPR Kids, reposted it.

“We wanted to share this again while some of our followers continue school holiday/summer trips,” Hunstead said. “⁠Please, make sure your kids know to NEVER put their heads under the water in a spa bath and hair should always be tied up.⁠ We are so grateful to Adrienne for sharing her family’s ordeal as an important reminder to others, and we are so relieved Elizabeth was okay.”

Incident sparks call for spa safety awareness

Hunstead stressed the importance of caution during school holidays and summer trips, advising parents to instruct their children never to submerge their heads in a spa bath and to keep their hair tied up.

The post generated numerous comments, with parents expressing fear and gratitude for the shared reminder of spa safety.

One mum thanked Hunstead for the post saying: “Thank you SO much for sharing this. We recently moved into a house with a spa, and this had honestly never occurred to me. My child is constantly going underwater, so this post literally could have just saved a life!”

Another parent mentioned they keep a pair of scissors in the room with their spa for emergencies like this.

Many other parents expressed this is one of their biggest fears when it comes to jacuzzis.

Spa safety guidelines

SPASA (Swimming Pool and Spa Association) list these safety rules for all spa owners:

  1. A spa pool is a heated water environment and if you are concerned that it may adversely affect you it is your responsibility to seek medical advice.
  2. NEVER PUT YOUR HEAD UNDER. A major hazard of spa pools is the danger of trapping your hair, bathing suit strings/tassels or a part of your body on the spa suction outlets.
  3. Spas should have a cut-off switch for the pump. Know where it is so you can turn it off in an emergency.
  4. Children under 10 years should be under the active supervision of a person 16 years or older whilst in the spa pool area.
  5. Do not use the spa pool area while under the influence of drugs or alcohol (certain medications may also produce adverse effects).
  6. It is recommended that you use the spa pool for no longer than 15 minutes at a time.
  7. When purchasing a spa, ask the supplier for proof that it is designed to minimise the likelihood of entrapment and complies with the recognised Australian and International standards.

Note: if you have young or older people using your spa, the smooth finish of the spa can become slippery, and it is recommended you choose a model with built-in grab bars to improve safety.

If you are planning on using or installing a spa at your home, you must follow all guidelines to make sure it’s as safe as it is enjoyable.

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Avatar of Tina Evans

Tina Evans is a complete introvert, an avid reader of romance novels, horror novels and psychological thrillers. She’s a writer, movie viewer, and manager of the house menagerie: three kelpies, one cat, a fish, and a snake. She loves baking and cooking and using her kids as guinea pigs. She was a teenage parent and has learned a lot in twenty-three years of parenting. Tina loves Christmas and would love to experience a white Christmas once in her life. Aside from writing romance novels, she is passionate about feminism, equality, sci-fi, action movies and doing her part to help the planet.

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