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5 Startling Dangers of Soaking in Hot Springs

While hot springs can help you relax your tired bones, taking a soak could put you in danger. Many bathers quickly find themselves in hot water when they take a dip.

To stay safe and enjoy a therapeutic experience, proceed with caution. If not, you might be in for quite the surprise.

Today, we’re reminding you of the dangers of hot springs so you can decide if a soak is right for you. 

Let’s dive in!

Man crawling through the desert reaching for bottle of water. Dehydration is one of the dangers of soaking in hot springs.
Dehydration and overheating are common issues from soaking in hot springs that can lead to death

What Are Hot Springs?

Hot springs are the result of Earth’s energy heating water. Geysers, mud baths, and hot pools are common types of hot springs. However, most people are typically referring to soaking pools.

These vary in size and temperature but are usually between 104℉ and 115℉. Geothermal reservoirs deep under the Earth’s surface heat the pools. Minerals and elements can significantly alter their appearance. They can be crystal clear or murky, depending on the amount of sediments.

Some occur in convenient locations, allowing for resort-style accommodations. On the other hand, Mother Nature ultimately is the boss of where they occur. Plenty of them are in remote areas surrounded by thick forests or rugged mountains. No matter which you prefer, there are lots of options available.

5 Dangers of Soaking in Hot Springs

Unfortunately, their natural beauty often distracts many people. They forget to consider the dangers of hot springs. Be sure you keep these risks in mind before getting your feet wet.

#1 Burns

Looks can be deceiving, especially with hot springs. They can be warmer than expected, and the situation can change quickly. If you spend too much time immersed, you can experience burns at 110°F. In places like Yellowstone National Park, some approach 200°F.

If you need a more convincing reason to stay out, first-degree burns typically occur around 118°F. In more severe situations, second and third-degree burns often occur around 130°F. Once conditions reach 158°F, tissues instantly get severely damaged. 

#2 Dehydration

You don’t have to stand out in the sun long before developing a sweat layer on your skin. The same is true for sitting in warm bodies of water. That said, you don’t typically notice how much sweat you lose because you’re submerged. It’s also easy to get distracted by the serene and peaceful environment.

If you’re not careful, it only takes a short time before dehydration occurs. The first indications are becoming thirsty or having a dry mouth. If you ignore these signs, fatigue, dizziness, headaches, and more severe complications can occur. Make sure you bring plenty of drinks and regularly take a sip or two.

Will you be staying nearby? 10 Awesome Hot Springs with RV Parks On Site.

#3 Hyperthermia

Another potential danger of hot springs is hyperthermia. This occurs when a person’s body temperature gets too high. It typically starts to appear above 104°F. You significantly increase your chances of heat stroke, which can cause severe damage to your brain and other organs.

Bathers can minimize the risks by taking regular breaks. Avoid spending extended periods in excessive temperatures. The warmer the water, the more critical it is to limit exposure. Listen to your body and take breaks if you feel unwell or experience dizziness or other symptoms of hyperthermia.

#4 Cardiac Events

While there are benefits for many individuals with cardiovascular diseases, they should proceed cautiously. Quickly increasing your temperature can cause your blood pressure to drop. Unfortunately, it can shock your system and stress one of the most essential organs, your heart.

Those with cardiac conditions may experience dizziness, fainting, or more serious heart-relation issues. Instead of diving in, take it easy. Allow time to adjust gradually by inching your way in little by little. Additionally, take frequent breaks and give yourself plenty of time to cool down.

#5 Infection

Bacteria and other microorganisms can thrive in these pools. Naegleria fowleri, also known as the brain-eating amoeba, lives in conditions up to 113°F. In addition, E. coli bacteria can easily survive at 113°F to 140°F. These tiny creatures can cause infections, rashes, and various intestinal illnesses.

Although officials often monitor conditions, they can change quickly and without warning. Visiting spas and other closely scrutinized areas can help reduce issues. If a spring is closed, follow the instructions to avoid potential health conditions.

Would you be able to help? Take a first aid course or at least read up on it: ACEP First Aid Manual.

Are There Benefits to Soaking in Hot Springs?

While there are dangers to visiting hot springs, you’ll also find some benefits. There are plenty of reasons why they’ve been popular spots throughout history. The increased temperatures and minerals can soften your skin. Those with psoriasis, acne, and eczema often benefit from taking a dip.

Research indicates bathing in warm water can help lower stress levels and improve sleep. If you’re struggling with either of these, grab your bathing suit. A nice soak can improve your health and overall mood.

The natural setting of these environments can be important too. Spending time in nature and breathing fresh air can be tremendously beneficial. Many people spend most of their time inside, exposed to recycled air. It’s easy to forget about work, the pile of bills to pay, or whatever other obligations you might have while soaking in comforting waters.

In addition to washing away your worries, they can help improve circulation. The heavy mineral content helps improve blood flow through your veins. This allows your heart to work more efficiently. However, it’s important to note that some individuals should avoid hot springs altogether.

A photo of a woman thinking. Hot springs carry many dangers that you should consider before jumping in.
Consider carefully if soaking in hot springs is right for you

Who Should Avoid Soaking in Hot Springs?

Those with severe health conditions, especially cardiovascular disease, should think twice. As we mentioned, increased temperatures can shock the human body. Your peaceful and relaxing soak could quickly become a trip to the emergency room if you’re not careful.

Another group that may want to avoid them is pregnant women. The increased temperatures could cause stress on the baby. If you’re heading to the springs, just put your feet in and avoid getting in above your knees. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Finally, the last group is anyone with an open wound or cut. As mentioned earlier, bacteria and microorganisms live in many of these waters. An injury or cut is the perfect place for these critters to enter your system. It won’t take long before they wreak havoc on your immune system.

Before you go, learn the rules: The 7 Shocking Sins of Soaking in Hot Springs.

Is the Danger of Soaking in Hot Springs Worth It?

We know there’s a certain level of danger with hot springs, but they can be worth it. When done safely, the benefits often outweigh the potential complications. However, prioritizing your health is the best policy. 

This is a decision that should be made on a case-by-case basis. We’re not doctors, so consult a trusted medical professional before making decisions about your health. Be honest and work with them to assess whether or not it’s a good decision for you.

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