Although the Pool and Spa Safety Act was passed in 2007, mandating that public pools replace flat drain covers with larger covers that do not create suction- many private pools and spas’ drain covers were not updated and still pose a risk of danger or death, especially for children.
An average of 390 children under age 15 die each year from pool or spa-related submersion injuries, including drowning or near-drowning incidents, according to 2008-2010 statistics from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Forty-eight percent of injuries and 73 percent of fatalities involving kids under 15 occurred at a residence, not a public pool.
Pool drains were responsible for sending 39 people, mostly children, to the emergency room from 2008 to 2012. Their injuries ranged from bruising and fractured toes to more serious injuries caused by drain suction. Even the new, domed drain covers present a hazard if they are not checked regularly, since the screws holding them in place can potentially come off or rust.
Additional tips for preventing this type of accident:
Get the proper safety features: Every residential pool should have up-to-date domed drain covers that are securely attached, plus a safety vacuum release system. There are also protectors that block the drain pipe underneath the cover so children’s hands and feet cannot get stuck inside.
If your child would become attached to the drain: Don’t try to lift them straight off the drain- the force of the suction makes that impossible. Instead, reach across the child, wedging your fingers between the drain and their body. Then peel or roll them off by pulling sideways.