At the end of last month, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a recall for close to 1 million pool drain covers. USA Today reported on the recall, noting that this could cause pools to close across the country.
Pool drain covers are required by law and are designed to keep swimmers safe. The covers divert the flow of water into drains to prevent a vortex effect. Without a proper cover, suction from pool drains can trap swimmers, most often children, underwater. There are many cases where the trapped swimmers go without oxygen for too long and die. There are other cases where the trapped swimmer has been freed before death but ends up with a catastrophic injury such as brain damage and or a permanent coma.
The law was enacted in 2008, but many pool safety advocates say that it is not working as planned.
USA Today reported Congressional supporters have complained the CPSC has undermined the law by not requiring automatic drain shut off switches. Senator Mark Pryor wrote the commission arguing, “In single drain pools, no drain cover — no matter how large or unblockable — can protect a child from entrapment if the drain cover is improperly installed or inadvertently removed.” The recall highlights this danger as the drain covers many installed as a safety measure are inadequate.
So what can pool owners do to protect swimmers? The Association of Pool and Spa Professionals offers the following advice on their website: If you have a drain cover that was installed after December 2008 and you have an in ground spa, in ground wading pool or your pool only has one drain, the cover may be part of the recall. The best thing to do is to stop using the pool until a professional has examined and, if necessary, replaced the drain cover.
To make your pool as safe as possible, always make sure swimmers follow a few basic rules.
Do not swim alone.
Do not allow children to swim unsupervised.
Do not play with or around drains.
Do not swim in a pool or use a hot tub that has a broken or missing drain cover.