Pool Safety – Preventing Drain Entrapment

Author: Malcolm P. "Mic" McConnell, III, Richmond, VA Medical Malpractice Attorney

Pool Safety – Preventing Drain EntrapmentWhen we head to the pool on a warm summer day, most of us do not worry about the drain. A pool drain suctions water from the pool to capture dirt and other debris that collects at the bottom of the pool. Pool water and debris pass through the pool’s filtration system, which removes debris and allows filtered water to circulate back into the pool. However, information from the  Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that, in recent years, there have been several dozen serious injuries and two deaths caused by drain entrapment. A few simple precautions can help keep your kids safe from this unusual danger.[1]

  • Don’t swim in loose clothing or jewelry, or with long, dangling hair. Any of these could be sucked into a drain and cause an injury.
  • Keep a close eye on swimmers in toddler pools or wading pools. With swimmers nearly always in contact with the bottom or sides, these pools represent the greatest risk for entrapment.
  • Always watch young children in the pool, as they are weaker and less able to pull away from a drain if they become entrapped.[2]
  • Keep equipment up to date. New drain and filter covers are specifically designed to prevent entrapment, whereas some older models may increase the risk.[3]
  • Never run your pump at higher than the recommended setting, and make sure the emergency shutoff is conveniently placed and clearly labelled.[4]

Drain entrapment may seem like an unlikely and distant concern, but the sad tale of Virginia Graeme Baker demonstrates all too well how quickly something can go wrong. Seven-year-old Virginia, a strong swimmer and member of a dive team, was trapped on the bottom of the pool by a drain suction so strong that even her parents could not pull her free. In response to her death, the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act was passed to update drain covers all over the country and prevent another senseless tragedy.[5]

Please be aware of the dangers posed by community and residential pools and their drains. Your vigilance could save a life.

About The Author: Malcolm "Mic" McConnell is a personal injury lawyer who helps injured persons get the fair compensation they deserve. He is the lead Medical Malpractice attorney at the Allen Law Firm and has nearly 30 years of experience handling cases in a variety of medical specialties. Mic was named the Best Lawyers' Medical Malpractice Law - Plantiffs "Lawyer of the Year" in 2013 and 2016.


[1] http://www.poolsafely.gov/pool-spa-safety/safety-issues/drain-entrapments/

[2] http://apsp.org/safety/pool-spa-safety/entrapment-protection.aspx

[3] http://www.brookespoolservices.com/tech-resources/121-swimming-pool-drain-entrapment-accidents

[4] See Footnote 2.

[5] http://poolsafely.gov/pool-spa-safety-act/virginia-graeme-baker/

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