Summer Safety Tip #5: Swimming Pool Drain Covers

Now that summer time is here and families are heading out to their local pools, there’s another aspect of pool safety that you need to know about.

You have probably heard news stories about  children who have been caught on drains at the bottom of pools. Drains with old-fashioned, missing, broken, or faulty covers can also entrap hair, limbs, clothing, and jewelry. Because the suction of the pool pumps is so strong, children–and even some adults–are unable to free themselves, and they end up drowning or becoming seriously injured. In severe cases, the suction can even cause disembowelment/evisceration.

What you may not have heard is that a series of Federal and state laws have been enacted prevent this type of tragedy. The new laws are already in effect in North Carolina. Public pools must now have modified drain covers, which are usually dome shaped so that children won’t get stuck.  In addition, pools must have two drains per pump, so that one drain would be able to handle 100% of the water flow.

The laws were sparked by the 2002 death of 7-year-old Virginia Graeme Baker (granddaughter of former Secretary of State James Baker), who became trapped at the bottom of a hot tub by the suction of the drain. Her mother, Nancy, has worked to make pool and hot tub entrapment a nationally recognized issue, and to ensure that mandatory standards were put in place. (To read more about Graeme’s story, click here: SafeKids page on VGB.

So, what does that mean for you?  Well, before I would take my child to the pool, I would check with pool management to make sure they are in compliance with the new law.  Also, take a look at the pool yourself, and look for raised or domed drain covers–those are the ones that you want to see.  Also, make sure that you see multiple drains.

We have created a short video about this topic. Click here to view: HensonFuerst Pool Drain video.

To read FAQs about the VGB Pool and Spa Act, click here:  PoolSafety.gov

At HensonFuerst, if you have questions, we have answers.

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