Pool Safety:  It’s Not Just about Watching The Kids

Pool Safety: It’s Not Just about Watching The Kids

Even though the summer season is coming to a close, just the other day we were reminded of yet another concern about pool safety: pool drains. The music star Usher’s son was pulled to the bottom of his home pool by the suction power of a faulty drain cover. Even if this 5-year-old had been a strong swimmer (I won’t use the term ‘water-safe’, as no child is really ‘water-safe’ until they’re mature enough to be a lifeguard), there is no way that he could have overcome the power of the drain suction. The suction was so strong that an adult swimmer was unable to generate enough strength to pull the child from the drain’s suction. Several other adults were finally able to rescue and resuscitate him, but the event was devastating.

All public pools are required by law to have drain covers, and home pools are now required to have them as well. And this now includes spas, hot tubs, and kiddie pools. These covers protect us from the hundreds of pounds of pressure that an open, uncovered pool drain can generate. But even these well-designed and well-secured covers can become loose or dislodged from years of chlorine and sun exposure. One may not notice this until the cover suddenly becomes free altogether.

Other horrors over the past few years have included a baby getting stuck in an uncovered kiddie pool drain, landing on her tummy. Another young girl sat on an uncovered pool drain. It sucked out part of her intestines, and she lost her life. Other children have lost their lives when their hair has gotten stuck in pool or spa drains, whereby they are unable to free themselves from the suction, or are unable to be freed with help.

So where do we go from here? As the summer comes to a close, if you do have a home pool or spa, this is a great time to double check the stability of your drain cover. And don’t forget to do it again before the next swim season starts.

– Nina L. Shapiro, MD



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