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The Dangers of Missing and Broken Pool Drain Covers

When Floridians hear about pool safety, it often involves ways to prevent drowning. However, another potentially-deadly danger involves people becoming entrapped in pool drains.

There are a number of ways that swimmers can become trapped in a drain that is broken or uncovered. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission:

  • Almost 30 percent of cases involve a person's body being sucked down and held underwater by the force of that suction.
  • Almost 29 percent of entrapments occur when a person hair gets stuck in a drain.-- Over a quarter of cases occur when a limb gets stuck in a drain.
  • Jewelry, swimming suits and other items can also get stuck in a drain or cover. This "mechanical" entrapment occurs in 5.6 percent of cases.
  • A particularly gruesome type of entrapment, which accounts for just over 3 percent of cases, involves disembowelment and evisceration. These can occur when a person sits on a drain with a missing or broken cover.

Property owners are required to ensure that their pool drain covers meet Florida Building Code and other standards for safety. They should have their drains regularly inspected by a licensed professional. Broken, missing and uncertified covers should always be replaced before anyone is allowed access to a pool.

There is also a federal law called the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act. That law requires any public pool to have drain covers and other safeguards to prevent entrapment.

Anyone who has been injured or who has lost a family member due to a faulty or missing pool drain cover should determine what his or her legal options are. Holding property owners accountable for unsafe pools can bring needed compensation for medical bills and other financial needs. It can also help incentivize property owners to work to ensure the safety of those who use their pools.

Source: Florida Swimming Pool Association, "Pool Drain Safety," accessed June 09, 2015

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