The U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is alerting consumers and public health officials to steps they can take to reduce entrapment deaths and injuries associated with pools, spas, and hot tubs.
The main hazard from hot tubs and spas is the same as that from pools -- drowning. Since 1980, CPSC has reports of more than 700 deaths in spas and hot tubs. About one-third of those were drownings to children under age five.
Other hazards include body part entrapment and hair entanglement.
Since 1980, CPSC knows of 18 incidents, including five deaths, involving children between the ages of two and 14 who were injured or died due to body part entrapment involving the drain of a swimming pool, wading pool, or spa. In addition, last week, a 16-year-old New Jersey girl drowned when her body was sucked down against a drain on the bottom of a spa. Her body apparently formed a vacuum seal against an outlet for circulating water and she was held underwater.
Under normal conditions, pipes leading from a pool's drain, or into the pool's pumps, draw water from the pool creating suction. If something blocks the pool drain leading into this pipe, the amount of suction will increase as the pump draws water past the obstruction. This increased suction can entrap parts of a person's body, causing the person to be held underwater. In wading pools, if a child sits on the drain outlet, the suction can cause disembowelment.
To reduce the risk of entrapment and drowning, current safety standards require that each spa have two outlets for each pump, lessening the amount of suction at any single outlet.