More than 830 children under 14 die of accidental drowning each year, according to Safe Kids USA. An average of about 17 kids under age 5 drown in hot tubs each year, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission Approximately
70% of child drownings occur even though one or both parents is nearby, according to the commission.
Hot tubs pose a number of safety dangers, experts say.
To prevent drowning, people should install a fence, gate or barrier around the hot tub area, says Sue Baker, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy in Baltimore. Fences should be at least 4 feet high and have childproof locks.
Doctors disagree about the effectiveness of hot tub covers.
In a statement on drowning prevention, experts at Nationwide Children's Hospital's Center for Injury Research and Policy in Columbus, Ohio, advise keeping tubs covered and locked when not in use.
But Baker says children also become trapped beneath tub covers that aren't properly secured.
"Like childproof aspirin bottles, hot tub covers are a pain to deal with, so people tend to just leave the covers off," Baker says. "Closing the latch on a childproof gate is so easy to do."