Tougher guidelines for Sauna operators in Uganda. Operators of Saunas, steambath and related facilities will now have to get the approval or certification from the Uganda National Bureau of Standards before they are opened to the public.
This comes after the UNBS issued standards for the operations of these facilities as a measure to protect human life. UNBS says that the standards were developed in response to the disasters that have occurred at some saunas or steambath facilities with some fatalities, but also notes that some facilities are actually centres of disease transmission.
Dr Safina Namugga, the Principal Standards Officer at UNBS says that these facilities are an important source of healthy living citing, for example, that sweating helps eliminate toxins from the body, boost immunity, and detoxifying the skin among other benefits, and that heating the body’s tissues also helps the body heal faster.
She, however, notes that they have been mishandled and misused by both operators and client, to adverse effect. For this, the standards council recommended that a number of safety sauna rules be instituted.
Saunas consist of an insulated enclosure made of wood, together with heat-generating equipment usually in the form of a heat-generating stove, either using electricity or firewood and another form of heat source.
But these factors lead to an environment that can lead to explosions and similar incidents that have been witnessed in some places, according to Namugga, who also emphasized that health standards must be maintained. Accordingly, premises for these facilities will not be allowed to open unless they meet these requirements
The new standard provides a wide range of rules and procedures that must be followed by both the operators or owners of the facilities, as well as the clients that visit them. For instance, the surface of walls, floors and ceilings in the sauna, steam, or whirlpool rooms shall be made of impervious materials that are smooth, easily cleaned and disinfected daily and regularly following frequency of usage and national standards, according to the guidelines.
Revellers or clients are also not allowed to enter sauna and steam-bath areas when they are barefoot, to prevent them from possibly spreading diseases. The guidelines also emphasise sanitary standards to prevent the creation of habitat for bacterial or other disease agents.
“Micro-organisms thrive in warm and moist areas, making unhygienic saunas, steam rooms and whirlpools hot spots for disease-causing germs. Contact with them can cause a variety of health complications ranging from ill health, skin problems, or upset stomachs to physical accidents such as slips, and falls. Accidents and exposure to infections can be greatly reduced by putting in place the following measures,” the guidelines say.
While the saunas and other similar facilities have been used as social or recreation centres, the guidelines ban alcohol consumption and smoking within.
Clients are also advised to leave the sauna, steam bath and/or whirlpool when they start to feel dizzy, nauseous or have a headache, as continued use can turn catastrophic, while any non-communicable diseases should be reported to a medical expert before use of a sauna, steam bath or whirlpool facility by a client. Clientele shall not access the sauna right after a large meal or strenuous exercise.
Namugga hopes that these guidelines will reduce the incidents that have characterised such places out of neglect or misuse.