Pool maintenance is no small matter. It is incredibly important to the overall safety of the pool and its swimmers. Proper pool maintenance could reduce the risk of serious drowning incidents. Drowning is one of the most common causes of unintentional injury deaths in the U.S., taking about 10 lives daily. Two of these deaths are children under the age of 14. Pool drain accidents, or drain entrapment, is one of the most significant risks children face in swimming pools.
What Are Pool Drain Accidents?
Pool drain accidents refer to drain entrapment. Drain entrapment occurs when a drain’s powerful suction traps a child’s hair, bathing suit or body parts. Drain entrapment can cause serious and fatal injuries, including broken bones, lacerations, internal organ damage, drowning and brain damage. Evisceration and disembowelment have also occurred in pool drain accidents. Several children have lost their lives in drain entrapment incidents, while others have suffered life-threatening injuries.
Drain entrapment has also injured and killed adults, catching their hair, jewelry or clothes and trapping the victim underwater. A pool drain can impose hundreds of pounds of suction on a swimmer. Pool drain entrapment is an extremely serious risk that all pool owners, hotels, spas and other entities must take seriously. It is a risk in any pool that does not have a compliant drain cover. If a pool owner does not properly inspect, maintain and repair his or her public pool, this could expose swimmers to a risk of pool drain accidents.
How to Prevent Pool Drain Accidents
Pool drain accidents are almost always preventable. The most serious incidents happen when the pool drain has a defect, such as a broken, damaged or missing drain cover. A drain cover can prevent the suction from trapping limbs, hair or clothes inside the drain. Pool owners should regularly inspect their pools for hazards such as broken or missing drain covers. If a drain does not have a safe cover, the owner should close the pool until he or she fixes the problem. Letting people swim in the pool – especially children – is an act of negligence that could lead to a tragedy.
Thanks to greater awareness of pool drain accidents and advocacy from groups such as Safe Kids Worldwide, the federal government passed the VGB Act in 2008. Lawmakers named the act after Virginia Graeme Baker, a seven-year-old victim who died after a spa hot tub drain trapped her underwater. The law states that as of December 19th, 2008, all public pools and spas must have covers that meet federal safety regulations. If the pool has one main drain, the operator must disable the drain while in use or install an anti-entrapment device.
Pool owners must also use federally compliant drains and covers. A compliant drain cover has a curved shape rather than a flat design, making it more difficult for a body part to fully block the drain and suffer the full power of its suction. Compliant drain covers are also stronger, making them less likely to break and expose swimmers to related risks. Parents should always make sure a public pool has compliant drain covers before letting children swim. They should also tell their children to stay away from pool drains, regardless of the type of drain cover.
Who Is Liable for a Pool Drain Accident?
The rate of pool drain accident injuries and deaths has decreased thanks to new federal safety regulations. Pool drains can still pose significant risks, however – especially to children. If the owner of a public pool was negligent in installing compliant drain covers or inspecting covers for issues, he or she could be liable for related swimming pool drain accidents. An injured adult or the parent of a minor involved in a drain entrapment disaster could bring a premises liability claim against the pool owner for breaking the law or negligently failing to ensure the safety of the pool. A successful claim could hold the pool owner accountable for his or her mistakes. Contact our San Diego swimming pool accident attorneys today.