Drain danger is a serious threat! In fact, pool drain, or “entrapment”-related, drowning deaths are steadily on the rise, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Of course, the danger of pool drains isn’t a new phenomenon. This hazard has always been present. Sadly, no one seemed to really be paying much attention to it until recently. In 2002, a terrible disaster struck the family of former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker: his granddaughter, Virginia, tragically drowned in the family hot tub after becoming entrapped by the main drain.

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Since then, there has been a concerted effort to stamp out drain danger. In 2006, legislation was introduced that eventually became known as the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act. Drain danger was the main focus of the Act. It states that all public pools must have specifically approved covers on every drain danger, each meeting ASME/ANSI standards. We’ve included an image of these approved covers below.

Approved Drains

At Life Saver Pool Fence, we’re concerned with making your personal pool or spa safer. It is important to know how to locate your drain and how to avoid possible entanglement.

Drain Danger: Why Are Pool Drains So Dangerous?

Before we move on, let’s take moment to see what makes a pool drain work. Drains are located at the bottom of pools, typically in the deeper section. A drain works by creating a powerful suction effect. Water travels from the pool through the circulation system and ultimately back into the pool. It’s a real marvel of physics, but it has a dark side.

Think of pool drains like a vacuum – they suck everything up. Have you ever placed your hand over a vacuum? Well, imagine that feeling of suction times 1,000. Many drowning deaths have resulted from underestimating the power of a pool drain. That suction is so powerful that it can trap children, and even adults, down at the bottom of the pool. When a person becomes entrapped in a pool drain’s pull, it is almost impossible to escape.

The CPSC list the following as possible drain entrapments:

  • Hair Entanglement: Hair can get caught in a faulty or broken drain cover.
  • Limbs: Arms, legs, and fingers can become lodged in a suction opening.
  • Body: Any body part that can cover a drain can be held down by suction.
  • Evisceration: Sitting on a broken or uncovered drain can cause injuries or disembowelment.
  • Mechanical: Jewelry or bathing suits can become entangled in drain covers.

How to Avoid Drain Danger and Entrapment

  • If you don’t already have one, purchase and install a drain cover that is approved by the CPSC (make sure you read the instructions!).
  • The older the drain, the more dangerous it can be. Outdated drain covers are flat and look like the drain cover in your shower. If your pool has a drain cover that looks like this, it’s time for a replacement. Newer drains are dome shaped. This improved design cuts down suction. It is far more difficult for hair and limbs to get caught inside.
  • Tell your children to avoid playing or swimming near drains and suction outlets.
  • Never enter a pool that has a loose, broken, or missing drain cover.
  • Frequently check your drain to ensure that the drain cover is in tact.
  • Explain the dangers of drains to your children.
  • Avoid using pool toys that can sink to the bottom of the pool. If these toys sink, they can lure children toward this hazardous area.