It is that time of year again and we must be aware of the hidden dangers in our own backyards. Pools and spas are places we use for sports, recreation, and exercise. They should be as safe as possible. Unfortunately, each year people are injured at public and private pools and spas.
The powerful forces that circulate the water in your pool or spa are capable of sucking young children onto the drains at the bottom or side of your pool or spa. Last year in Florida, this suction force killed four children, while others were severely injured.
The swimming pool and spa drain is the danger zone for our children. We must make sure to safely replace these hazardous conditions with new safe approved covers.
The good news is that besides replacing the covers, we know how to eliminate many of the other hazards that commonly result in injury or death. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has created pool and spa guidelines to help identify and eliminate dangerous entrapment hazards.
Drains: The Serious Danger
There are three primary ways young children can become trapped by the suction forces at the bottom or side of the pool or spa:
- Hair can be sucked into the drain and become tangled around the drain grate making it impossible to be pulled out.
- Many older drain covers that lay flat to the pool bottom, can suck a child’s body to the drain making it impossible to pull them off.
- Loose, broken, or missing drain covers can allow a child to be pulled into the piping below the drain cover allowing a suction entrapment.
Prevention Is the Key
There are a number of things you can do to prevent a child from becoming trapped by the suction forces in swimming pools and spas:
- Never let children play around with the suction drains on the side or bottom of pool.
- Check the drain cover to be sure it is firmly secured at all times.
- Regularly examine the drain cover to be sure that chemical exposure and ultraviolet rays from the sun have not caused it to decay.
If for any reason your child becomes entrapped by a pool or spa drain you must immediately:
- Turn off the pump to the swimming pool or spa.
- Immediately get air into the plumbing system in order to release the suction. It is recommended that you remove or break the clear cover over the pump basket or break open the piping in front of the pump by whatever means necessary.
There are a number of swimming pool and safety items available which can prevent drain suction entrapment:
- Pool and spa drain covers which are ASME/ ANSI A112.19.8M-1987 certified. These drain covers have been tested for strength and prevent hair entanglement and body suction entrapment. If you have any questions regarding swimming pool or spa drain covers which are ASMC/ANSI A 112 certified, please contact your local, licensed pool contractor.
- Safety vacuum relief devices which automatically sense that something is covering the pool or spa drain and in seconds automatically relieve the suction force from the pool or spa drain.
- Vent piping.
These devices can be easily and quickly installed on any existing or new swimming pool or spa and provide two layers of protection.
Kurt Kasson, CBO, City of Allen
BOAT Past President