People should avoid staying in a hot tub alone, the director of the Utah County Health Department said.
Joseph Miner made the comment in the wake of an autopsy report released Tuesday that said an Orem man's death in his hot tub last month was an accidental drowning.Orem Police spokesman Gerald Nielsen said the state medical examiner's office reported Robert Downard, 42, did not have drugs or alcohol in his system when he died June 14 about 4 a.m.
Miner said the body has elaborate systems to keep it at a uniform temperature. When it gets hot, for example, the veins and arteries near the skin expand, and the heart pumps more blood to those parts of the body to carry away excess heat.
Although he was uncertain whether that is what happened in this case, excess blood near the skin means less blood to the internal organs, such as the brain. With less blood and oxygen in the brain, fainting can occur. And if a person faints in the water, he or she can easily drown.
Miner said the heat can also create a dangerous strain on the heart, causing an irregular rhythm and low blood pressure as the heart tries to pump extra blood to carry off the heat.
Two people are in the water can assure that neither gets into trouble.
Some other safety suggestions:
- Never drink alcohol just before or while using a hot tub. Alcohol acts as an anesthetic and deadens awareness that a person is getting too hot.
- People with cardiovascular diseases should be extra careful about how long they stay in a hot tub.
- Regulations for public spas say the temperature should not be higher than 105 degrees. Private users should follow that guideline as well.
- Get out immediately if you feel sick or very tired.
- People on medications, particularly sedatives, should be especially careful.
- Children have a more difficult time regulating their body temperatures, so they should always have close adult supervision in hot tubs.
- Follow any safety instructions that come with the hot tub.