a pool drain

Drain Safety

a pool drain

Drains can be one of the most dangerous parts of a pool. Why? The three elements that make them dangerous include their suction, force, and their ability to create incredibly strong water circulation. Find out more below and learn what you can do to be safer around drain systems.

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What Makes a Pool Drain Dangerous?

  • Pool Drain Suction: Think about the end of a vacuum cleaner tube. If you’ve put your hand up to one, you’ve felt the pressure sucking against your palm. A pool drain exerts a much greater suction.
  • 100s of Pounds of Force: Flat drain covers can be completely blocked by a body part. The suction can be equivalent to hundreds of pounds of force, meaning it might require multiple adults to remove someone trapped.
  • Strong Water Circulation: They also create a strong circulation of water that can attract hair and cause entanglement, increasing the risk of entrapment.

While drain entrapment is rare, these incidents have resulted in a serious injury 85% of the time, with nearly 70% happening to young children.

a boy swimming with a boogie board in a pool
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Newer pool and spa drain designs are safer.

They are designed so they can’t be fully obstructed.

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Warn your children.

Tell children to stay away from drains or other outlets. And keep reminding them. Should a drain cover become loose or missing, evacuate the pool immediately and alert your pool manager. Do not return to the pool until the drain cover has been secured.

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Eliminate the possibility of hair or clothing entrapment.

Always tie back long hair and never wear loose clothing in a pool.

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Be aware and prepared to shut down power immediately in an emergency.

Shutting down power to the pump is best, however, if you can’t find it, turn off the power to the pool.

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Always ask.

Ask pool and spa owners if they are using anti-entrapment drain covers. If they are not or don’t know… find another pool.

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Pool and Spa Entrapment occurs when a person is trapped by the suction power of the drain.

This is equivalent to hundreds of pounds of force; such force is too strong for a child or small person to escape.

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The Virginia Graeme Baker Act requires that pools and spas have anti-entrapment drain covers.

President George W. Bush signed the Virginia Graeme Baker (VGB) Pool and Spa Safety Act into law in 2007. Since going into effect, there have been no reported fatalities involving a child being entrapped on a suction outlet cover in a public pool or spa.

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Install anti-entrapment covers in your pool.

It is critical to ensure that your pool has anti-entrapment drain covers in order to avoid your child becoming trapped underwater. This is part of D’s in our ABCDs of Water Safety.

Pool Safety 101

The ZAC Foundation was established to prepare children and families for a lifetime of water safety. The organization works to strengthen pool safety legislation and fund advocacy, education, and effective programming surrounding water safety. Zachary’s memory is the inspiration for the Foundation’s mission and activities.

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people drown each year

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