Safe Swimming

As summer approaches, many families will flock to pools and hot tubs to beat the heat. Although this is a great way to stay cool, have fun and get some exercise, be aware that drowning is the number two cause of accidental death among children aged 1 to 14.

Many of these drownings occur during the summer in pools and hot tubs '- some from an unexpected hazard called drain entrapment.

Never heard of entrapment? About two-thirds of parents and caregivers have little or no knowledge of this risk to their children's safety. Drain entrapment happens when part of a child's body becomes attached to a drain by the powerful suction of a pool or hot tub's filtration system. It can also occur when a child's hair or swimsuit gets tangled in the drain or on an underwater object, such as a ladder.

It sounds scary '- and it is '- but entrapment is preventable. Here are a few simple tips that all parents and pool and hot tub owners should follow to prevent drain entrapments and promote general poolside safety.

Start by being proactive and set up your pool to maximize safety with these products:

  • Anti-entrapment drain covers. Some drain covers are designed to prevent hair and fingers from getting entangled in or below the holes of the drain cover. These need to be installed while the pool is empty.

  • Safety vacuum-release systems. These devices detect any blockage of a drain automatically and immediately shut off the suction to prevent entrapment. They can be purchased and installed in existing pool systems as well as new systems.
  • Multiple drains in new construction. Having several drains versus one decreases the amount of suction at each drainage site so children can more easily detach themselves. If you're considering building a pool or in the process of constructing one, now's the time to consider this safety feature '- once it's built, it's too late.

Additionally, warn your children about the dangers of drain entanglement and entrapment and teach them to stay away from drains. All hair should be securely tied back in a ponytail '- and shoulder-length hair or longer poses the biggest threat.

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