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Ben Schneider
Ben Schneider
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"Unblockable" Drains?

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We at the Pool Safety Council were disheartened by a recent Consumer Product Safety Commission report. It revealed that a man let himself become entrapped over a spa drain classified as unblockable. Entrapment, as I’m sure many of you know, occurs when a swimmer becomes trapped over a pool or spa’s drain due to its overpowering suction power. The man did this to himself because he was skeptical the drain was literally unblockable, and unfortunately his doubt was well founded. He laid his body down on the drain with his arms at his side, and he felt himself become entrapped when he did. Thankfully the man knew he could pry himself off by rolling to the side, and he escaped without major injuries. There were photos in the report, however, that showed some serious marks on the man’s body that were created by the entrapment.

It would be one thing if the spa was not in compliance with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, which requires public pools follow steps to protect swimmers from entrapment. But it is — a pool or spa with an "unblockable" drain is not required by law to install additional layers of protection. And that is what’s so frustrating about this. There are anti-entrapment devices, such as a safety vacuum release system, that can protect swimmers from entrapment on any drain. The law really should require these devices for all pools, in our opinion. Because you just never know when a seemingly "unblockable" drain will put you or a loved one in mortal danger.