Maintaining a Safe Home Sauna

By: mhent
Using a sauna has many health benefits associated with it. There is no need to get hurt while you try to get healthy. A sauna is unique environment. The heat, moisture and small space dictate that certain construction methods and behaviors be observed.

Safe construction
1-Any electrical connections need to be installed properly. Moisture and electricity are a bad combination. All connectors and fixtures need to be designed for moist areas and never exposed to the elements of a sauna. If you have ANY questions about installation hire, or at least consult, a professional.
2-Always use Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) with all circuits.
3-Ventilate your sauna. The small enclosed space along with the use of wood or gas heaters can create an exhaust problem. Even with an electric or infrared heater, ventilation will improve the efficiency of your home sauna. Venting circulates the air, which in turn circulates the heat, giving you a more uniform heat distribution. Having a slight gap at the bottom of the door and an adjustable exhaust vent above the bench on an opposite wall makes for a convenient and natural ventilation system.
4-Make sure the floor is not made of a slick material. A tile floor may be easy to clean but it becomes dangerously slippery when wet, not to mention hot. A Duckboard (a removable secondary flooring made of wood slats) works extremely well in this situation.
5-The door should swing out and never have a lock or latch on it. In case of fire or CO2 buildup you should not have to think about any more than pushing open the door to escape.
6- Make sure there is some sort of guardrail around the heater. Saunas are intentionally small and the risk of bumping into the heater in the often cramped quarters is real.

Safe behavior

7-A sauna should be a relaxing and laid back retreat. This is no place for roughhousing especially with a hot stove so close.
8-Alcohol and saunas may seem like a natural complement but it can become a dangerous combination. Both will relax you and together they may put you to sleep. Sleeping in the sauna should never happen. Overexposure to the heat is not good for you.
9-There is a lot of debate about taking a sauna during pregnancy. If you are pregnant be sure to talk to your physician about the risks involved.
10-There is some new evidence that suggests that men exposed to excessive heat may father children that have an increased risk of developing brain tumors. It has been known for a long time that heat damages sperm and decreases fertility. There now seems to be a possible link between hot tubs, saunas and electric blankets use by men and brain cancer risk in their offspring. Luckily the effects of the heat are temporary and probably last less than a few months.
11-Always end your sauna session if you feel dizzy, nauseous sleepy or uncomfortable (OK #11 is a bonus).

There is no reason you cannot enjoy your home sauna as a safe and relaxing retreat from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. A few simple precautions will insure a lifetime of safe and healthy use.
Home Improvement
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