Tips for first-time soak­ers

The Washington Post Sunday - - TRAVEL - — M.K.

1. Ask the doc: If you’re el­derly, preg­nant or have med­i­cal con­di­tions, check with your physi­cian be­fore you soak. Avoid the pools if you have open wounds. 2. Stay hy­drated: The el­e­va­tion of Colorado and phys­i­cal ex­er­tion will de­hy­drate you, and hot wa­ter — plus per­spir­ing — will do so fur­ther. Drink plenty of fresh wa­ter be­fore, dur­ing and af­ter a soak. Glass is gen­er­ally pro­hib­ited around hot springs, but you can take wa­ter in a plas­tic or metal con­tainer. 3. Keep an eye on the clock: Fif­teen-minute soaks are rec­om­mended, es­pe­cially if you’re new at this and don’t know how your body will re­act. If you soak longer, take fre­quent breaks. It’s not un­usual to feel tired af­ter a soak, so fac­tor in rest time af­ter­ward. 4. Know the rules be­fore you go: At most of the hot springs, food, al­co­hol, to­bacco and drugs and are pro­hib­ited. Gen­er­ally, hot springs don’t al­low dogs on the grounds. 5. Take ap­pro­pri­ate at­tire: Un­less oth­er­wise stated as clothin­gop­tional, wear a bathing suit and bring a towel; many spots have towel and/or robe rentals. Proper eti­quette: Shower be­fore you en­ter the wa­ter. 6. Be safe: En­ter and exit the pools slowly to ad­just to the change of tem­per­a­ture and avoid slip­ping. Keep in mind that smaller pools and soak­ing ar­eas typ­i­cally don’t have a life­guard on duty. You may be asked to sign a li­a­bil­ity wa­ver. 7. Rules on chil­dren vary: Some hot springs don’t al­low chil­dren at all; some re­quire adult su­per­vi­sion; some re­quire them to va­cate the area af­ter dark (which is usu­ally code for cloth­ing-op­tional at night). 8. Be pre­pared for dis­col­oration and tar­nish­ing: Nat­u­ral min­eral wa­ters are rich in iron, so vet­eran soak­ers sug­gest wear­ing an old bathing suit and re­mov­ing all jew­elry be­fore soak­ing.

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