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Janay Rickwalder, the vice president of communications at the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance, shares five entrapment avoidance guidelines. 

What is entrapment? Entrapment occurs when someone becomes stuck to a drain or suction fitting in a pool or spa, either from water suction, or from getting stuck in an opening — even if the pumps are turned off. It is a serious potential hazard, particularly for children, who are too small to break away.

There are five kinds of entrapment:

  1. Hair entrapment. Hair can become entangled or knotted in an outlet cover.
  2. Limb entrapment. Arms or legs can get stuck in an outlet with a missing or broken cover, even when the pumps are turned off.
  3. Body entrapment. Any part of the body that covers an outlet cover can be held down by the suction.
  4. Evisceration. Sitting on an unprotected sump or an outlet with a broken or missing cover can cause injuries or disembowelment.
  5. Mechanical entrapment. Fingers, toes and items such as jewelry or a bathing suit can become entangled and stuck in a non-compliant drain or cover, even when the pumps are turned off.

How can I prevent it?

Have your pool inspected by a licensed industry professional. They can tell you if there’s anything else you need to do. If your pool has a missing or broken drain cover, do not use the pool. Have it replaced with one that is up-to-date and compliant with ANSI/APSP standards.

Never let anyone swim alone, especially a child. A responsible adult who can swim should always be with the child or actively watching. And never run your pump at higher speeds than the manufacturer’s stated maximum. High water velocity can contribute to suction entrapment.

Learn More: Stay Open by Planning Ahead

Make sure your pool is protected with proper barriers such as fencing and safety covers to prevent unauthorized access. Additional safety measures include various alarms and self-closing/self-latching devices. also make sure there is an emergency shut-off switch that is clearly marked by a permanent sign and easily visible in the pool area so anyone can find and use it within seconds.

Don’t let anyone swim or play near drains and suction fittings. The suction at a main drain can be fatal. Maintain water clarity so when standing at the pool’s edge at the deep end, the deepest portion of the floor is visible including the drain cover.

Always follow these important rules:

  • Never enter — and never let anyone enter — a pool or spa with a loose, broken or missing suction fitting or drain cover.
  • Never allow anyone to play or swim near drains or suction fittings. If a drain cover is not compliant with the new standards, or is loose or broken, bodies or hair can be trapped, causing permanent injury or drowning.
  • Immediately notify the owner or operator of a pool if you see a loose, broken or missing drain cover. The pool should be closed immediately, and an industry professional should make the necessary repair or replacement.
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Janay Rickwalder

Janay Rickwalder is the vice president of marketing and communications for PHTA. For more information, email jrickwalder@phta.org.

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