Beware of pool drains

Under the federal law, all public pools and spas must have a variety of anti-entrapment systems installed.

But not every pool or hot tub is public and not every pool is compliant with the law, which was named after a young girl who drowned after she was trapped under water by the suction from a hot-tub drain.

Here’s what you need to know, courtesy of, a project of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:

  • A drain entrapment occurs when a body is held against a pool or spa drain by the force of the pool’s suction or when clothing, jewelry, hair or a limb becomes caught in a faulty drain.

  • The greatest risk of entrapment is found in children’s public wading pools, other pools designed specifically for young children and in-ground spas that have flat drain grates and single main drain systems.

  • The best way to prevent these hazards is to recognize them ahead of time and to use caution when in a pool or spa. Talk to your kids about staying away from drains.

  • Entrapment hazards include: the body (a body part, often the torso or bottom, covers a drain and is held down by the intensity of the suction); hair (long hair is caught in a faulty drain cover); limbs (arms, legs, feet or fingers are lodged in a suction opening); mechanical (jewelry, bathing suits or other materials are entangled in a drain cover); evisceration/disembowelment (when suction draws out the intestines and organs).

From 2008 through 2012, there were at least 39 victims of circulation entrapments in the U.S., including two fatalities (age 6 and 14); 32 were injured; and five suffered no injuries, according to the CPSC.