Swimming pool, spa and hot tub drains can present a serious risk of body
entrapment and hair entanglement, especially to children. According to
the Consumer Product Safety Commission and The American Academy of Pediatrics,
these are preventable hazards if proper safety precautions, including
the use of special drain covers, safety vacuum-release systems (SVRSs)
and other pressure-venting filter-construction techniques are utilized.
Drain entrapment can occur by a child playing with or near an open drain
and a hand or foot becoming trapped in the pipe by the suction that causes
the tissue to swell. Pool entrapment may result in drowning or an evisceration
injury that can cause death or permanent disfigurement. Loose fitting
articles of clothing can also easily become entrapped from the suction,
resulting in drowning.
Hair entanglement can also occur by a child playing with or near a pool,
spa, hot tub or whirlpool drain, and the child’s hair becoming entangled
and trapped due to the suction in the drain. Hair entanglement may result
in drowning or near-drowning incidents that may result in serious brain
injury from the lack of oxygen.
Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported 98 cases of body entrapment
involving a swimming pool or spa drain, including 15 confirmed deaths,
between 1990 and 2007. The deaths occurred by drowning after the body,
or a body limb, was trapped to the drain due to the suction of the circulation
pump. The pool entrapments occurred in both residential and public settings:
- 22 pool incidents occurred at a residential location; 31 at a public pool
facility; and in 21 cases the pool location was not disclosed;
- 39 incidents occurred in spas, hot tubs or whirlpools;
- 31 incidents occurred in swimming pools and 3 occurred in a wading pool
(one location was reported as ”unknown”). In one of the spa
incidents, a 16 year old girl was trapped by the suction on a 12″
by 12″ flat drain grate in a public spa and died.
According to the CPSC, between 1990 and 2004, there were 43 incidents of
hair entanglement, including 12 deaths. Hair entanglement incidents typically
involve females with long hair swimming underwater near a suction outlet.
The water flow into the drain sweeps the hair into and around the cover,
where it becomes tangled in cover, causing the victims to be trapped under
water. Most swimming pool or spa accidents involving hair entrapment occur
with people with hair that is shoulder length or longer.
The following water safety practices are aimed at specifically reducing
the hazard of drain entrapments and entanglements in a pool, spa, hot
tub or whirlpool:
- Keep children away from swimming pool drains, pipes and other openings
to avoid entrapments and entanglements
- Never leave children alone in a swimming pool, spa, hot tub or whirlpool
- Make sure that long hair, loose clothing or jewelry are not near a pool,
spa, hot tub or whirlpool drain or opening
- Make sure the pool, spa, hot tub or whirlpool has a compliant drain cover
- Install a Safety Vacuum Release System (SVRS)—a device that will
automatically shut off the pump if a blockage is detected—or any
other automatic shut-off system available for a pool, spa, hot tub or whirlpool
- Plainly mark the location of the electrical cut-off switch for the pool
or spa pump
- Know where the pool or spa pump switch is and know how to turn it off
What do you do if someone becomes entrapped or entangled in a pool, spa,
hot tub or whirlpool drain?
- Immediately turn off the pump
- Instead of trying to pull the person away from the suction of the drain
or grate, insert fingers or a small object between the drain and the person’s
body to break the seal and then roll them off until they’re free
- Call 911
- Know and implement life saving skills
The best defense against drain entrapment or hair entanglement is to prevent
the incident before it happens by being watchful in and around a swimming
pool, spa, hot tub or whirlpool, and never leave children unattended.
Regardless of how careful parents may be around swimming pools, our personal
injury law firm knows first hand that tragic events can still occur. If
you believe that someone may be at fault for a swimming pool accident
or drowning accident, or you would just like to discuss your options with
an attorney, please do not hesitate to contact our Atlanta law firm. At
Goldstein & Hayes, PC, we offer a free initial consultation to discuss
your claim and in most cases we collect no attorneys’ fees unless
we recover damages through settlement or trial.