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While water recreation provides children and their loved ones with hours of fun and exercise, water and kids can be a dangerous mix. Entrapment occurs when part of a child’s body becomes attached to a drain as a result of the powerful suction of the water circulation system, or an arm or leg is inserted into a drain with a missing or broken cover. Suction can even pull out the intestines when a child sits on an uncovered drain. Death or serious injury can occur when the force of the suction overpowers the child’s ability to disengage from the drain and rise to the surface of the water. Often, the strength of an adult is still not enough to remove a child trapped by a pool or spa drainage system. Entrapment deaths can also occur when a child’s hair or swimsuit gets tangled in the drain or on an underwater object, such as a ladder.

Entrapment Prevention
  • Supervise children continuously when they are around water.

  • Teach children to stay away from pool and spa drains, and tie up long hair securely to guard against entanglement and entrapment.

  • If you own a pool or spa, install anti-entrapment drain covers and a safety vacuum release system. For new pools or spas, install more than one drain. Maintain drain covers properly. Know where the manual cut-off switch for the pump is in case of emergency. Consider installing an approved safety vacuum release system (SVRS), a tool that quickly and automatically turns off the pump (and stops the suction) when something is trapped in or blocks the drain.

  • If you find a drain cover that is loose, broken or missing, do not enter the pool or spa; notify the owner or operator.

  • The Abigail Taylor pool safety bill, passed by the 2008 Minnesota Legislature, establishes standards for new and existing public pools and requires daily physical inspections of drain covers and grates. The bill also requires all public pools that are less than 4 feet deep to have drainage systems designed to prevent suction from blockage. The safety standards apply to pools at health clubs, parks, apartment buildings and hotels.

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