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GENERAL SAFETY CONCERNS RE POOLS

Each year, hundreds of young children die and thousands come close to death due to 
submersion in residential swimming pools. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) 
has estimated that each year, about 300 children under the age of 5 drown in swimming pools. 
Hospital emergencyroom 
treatment is required for more than 2,000 children under 5 who were 
submerged in residential pools. The CPSC did an extensive study of swimming pool accidents, 
both fatal drownings and nearfatal 
submersions, in California, Arizona and Florida states 
in 
which home swimming pools are very popular and used during much of the year. 
Here are some of the study’s findings: 
In California, Arizona and Florida, drowning was the leading cause of accidental death in and 
around the home for children under the age of 5. 
Seventyfive 
percent of the children involved in swimming pool submersion or drowning 
accidents were between 1 and 3 years old. 
Boys between 1 and 3 were the most likely victims of fatal drownings and nearfatal 
submersions in residential swimming pools. 
Most of the victims were in the presence of one or both parents when the swimming pool 
accident occurred. 
Nearly half of the child victims were last seen in the house before the pool accident occurred. In 
addition, 23% of the accident victims were last seen on the porch or patio, or in the yard. 
This means that 69% of the children who became victims in swimming pool accidents were not 
expected to be in or at the pool, but were found drowned or submerged in the water. 
Sixtyfive 
percent of the accidents occurred in a pool owned by the victim’s immediate family, 
and 33% of the accidents occurred in pools owned by relatives or friends. 
Fewer than 2% of the pool accidents were the result of children trespassing on property where 
they didn’t live or belong. 
Seventyseven 
percent of the swimming pool accident victims had been missing for five minutes 
or less when they were found in the pool, drowned or submerged. 
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The speed with which swimming pool drownings and submersions can occur is a special 
concern: by the time a child’s absence is noted, the child may have drowned. Anyone who has 
cared for a toddler knows how fast young children can move. Toddlers are inquisitive and 
impulsive and lack a realistic sense of danger. These behaviors, coupled with a child’s ability to 
move quickly and unpredictably, make swimming pools particularly hazardous for households 
with young children. 
Swimming pool drownings of young children have another particularly insidious feature: these 
are silent deaths. It is unlikely that splashing or screaming will occur to alert a parent or 
caregiver that a child is in trouble. The best way to reduce child drownings in residential pools is 
for pool owners to construct and maintain barriers that prevent young children from gaining 
access to pools. However, there are no substitutes for diligent supervision. 
Why the Swimming Pool Guidelines Were Developed 
A young child can get over a pool barrier if the barrier is too low, or if the barrier has handholds 
or footholds for a child to use for climbing. The guidelines recommend that the top of a pool 
barrier be at least 48 inches above grade, measured on the side of the barrier that faces away 
from the swimming pool. Eliminating handholds and footholds, and minimizing the size of 
openings in a barrier’s construction, can prevent inquisitive children from climbing pool barriers. 
For a solid barrier, no indentations or protrusions should be present, other than normal 
construction tolerances and masonry joints. For a barrier (fence) made up of horizontal and 
vertical members, if the distance between the tops of the horizontal members is less than 45 
inches, the horizontal members should be on the swimming poolside 
of the fence. The spacing 
of the vertical members should not exceed 13/
4 inches. This size is based on the footwidth 
of 
a young child, and is intended to reduce the potential for a child to gain a foothold. If there are 
any decorative cutouts in the fence, the space within the cutouts should not exceed 13/
inches. 
The definition of a pool includes spas and hot tubs. The swimming poolbarrier 
guidelines, 
therefore, apply to these structures, as well as to conventional swimming pools. 
How to Prevent a Child from Getting Over a Pool Barrier 
A successful pool barrier prevents a child from getting over, under or through, and keeps the 
child from gaining access to the pool except when supervising adults are present. 
The Swimming PoolBarrier 
Guidelines 
If the distance between the tops of the horizontal members is more than 45 inches, the 
horizontal members can be on the side of the fence facing away from the pool. The spacing 
between vertical members should not exceed 4 inches. This size is based on the headbreadth 
and chestdepth 
of a young child, and is intended to prevent a child from passing through an 
opening. Again, if there are any decorative cutouts in the fence, the space within the cutouts 
should not exceed 13/
4 inches. 
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For a chainlink 
fence, the mesh size should not exceed 11/
4 inches square, unless slats 
fastened at the top or bottom of the fence are used to reduce the mesh openings to no more 
than 13/
4 inches. 
For a fence made up of diagonal members (lattice work), the maximum opening in the lattice 
should not exceed 13/
4 inches. 
Aboveground 
pools should have barriers. The pool structure itself can sometimes serves as a 
barrier, or a barrier can be mounted on top of the pool structure. Then, there are two possible 
ways to prevent young children from climbing up into an aboveground 
pool. The steps or ladder 
can be designed to be secured, locked or removed to prevent access, or the steps or ladder can 
be surrounded by a barrier, such as those described above. For any pool barrier, the maximum 
clearance at the bottom of the barrier should not exceed 4 inches above grade, when the 
measurement is done on the side of the barrier facing away from the pool. 
If an aboveground 
pool has a barrier on the top of the pool, the maximum vertical clearance 
between the top of the pool and the bottom of the barrier should not exceed 4 inches. 
Preventing a child from getting through a pool barrier can be done by restricting the sizes of 
openings in a barrier, and by using selfclosing 
and selflatching 
gates. 
To prevent a young child from getting through a fence or other barrier, all openings should be 
small enough so that a 4inch 
diameter sphere cannot pass through. This size is based on the 
headbreadth 
and chestdepth 
of a young child. 
Gates 
There are two kinds of gates that may be found at a residential property. Both can play a part in 
the design of a swimming pool barrier. 
Pedestrian gates are the gates people walk through. Swimming pool barriers should be 
equipped with a gate or gates that restrict access to the pool. A locking device should be 
included in the gate's design. Gates should open out from the pool and should be selfclosing 
and selflatching. 
If a gate is properly designed, even if the gate is not completely latched, a 
young child pushing on the gate in order to enter the pool area will at least close the gate and 
may actually engage the latch. When the release mechanism of the selflatching 
device is less 
than 54 inches from the bottom of the gate, the release mechanism for the gate should be at 
least 3 inches below the top of the gate on the side facing the pool. Placing the release 
mechanism at this height prevents a young child from reaching over the top of the gate and 
releasing the latch. Also, the gate and barrier should have no opening greater than 1/2inch 
within 18 inches of the latch’s release mechanism. This prevents a young child from reaching 
through the gate and releasing the latch. 
Other gates should be equipped with selflatching 
devices. The selflatching 
devices should be 
installed as described for pedestrian gates. 
How to Prevent a Child from Getting Under or Through a Pool Barrier 
40 
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Many homes with pools have doors that open directly onto the pool area or onto a patio that 
leads to the pool. In such cases, the wall of the house is an important part of the pool barrier, 
and passage through any doors in the house wall should be controlled by security measures. 
The importance of controlling a young child’s movements from the house to the pool is 
demonstrated by the statistics obtained during the CPSC’s study of pool incidents in California, 
Arizona and Florida. Almost half (46%) of the children who became victims of pool accidents 
were last seen in the house just before they were found in the pool. 
All doors that permit access to a swimming pool should be equipped with an audible alarm that 
sounds when the door and/or screen are opened. The alarm should sound for 30 seconds or 
more within seven seconds after the door is opened. It should also be loud (at least 85 decibels) 
when measured 10 feet away from the alarm mechanism. The alarm sound should be distinct 
from other sounds in the house, such as the telephone, doorbell and smoke alarm. The alarm 
should have an automatic reset 
feature. Because adults will want to pass through house doors 
in the pool barrier without setting off the alarm, the alarm should have a switch that allows them 
to temporarily deactivate 
the alarm for up to 15 seconds. The deactivation 
switch could be a 
touch pad (keypad) or a manual switch, and should be located at least 54 inches above the 
threshold of the door protected by the alarm. This height was selected based on the reaching 
ability of young children. 
Power safety covers can be installed on pools to serve as security barriers. Power safety covers 
should conform to the specifications in ASTM F 134691. 
This standard specifies safety 
performance requirements for pool covers to protect young children from drowning. Selfclosing 
doors with selflatching 
devices could also be used to safeguard doors that permit ready access 
to a swimming pool. 
Indoor Pools 
When a pool is located completely within a house, the walls that surround the pool should be 
equipped to serve as pool safety barriers. The measures recommended above where a house 
wall serves as part of a safety barrier also apply for all the walls surrounding an indoor pool. 
Guidelines 
An outdoor swimming pool, including an inground, 
aboveground, 
or onground 
pool, hot tub, or 
spa, should be provided with a barrier that complies with the following: 
1. The top of the barrier should be at least 48 inches above grade, measured on the side of the 
barrier that faces away from the swimming pool. The maximum vertical clearance between 
grade and the bottom of the barrier should be 4 inches measured on the side of the barrier that 
faces away from the swimming pool. Where the top of the pool structure is above grade, such 
as an aboveground 
pool, the barrier may be at ground level, such as the pool structure, or 
mounted on top of the pool structure. Where the barrier is mounted on top of the pool structure, 
the maximum vertical clearance between the top of the pool structure and the bottom of the 
barrier should be 4 inches. 
2. Openings in the barrier should not allow the passage of a 4inch 
diameter sphere. 
3. Solid barriers, which do not have openings, such as a masonry and stone wall, should not 
.
contain indentations or protrusions, except for normal construction tolerances and tooled 
masonry joints. 
41 
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4. Where the barrier is composed of horizontal and vertical members, and the distance between 
the tops of the horizontal members is less than 45 inches, the horizontal members should be 
located on the swimming poolside 
of the fence. 
Spacing between vertical members should not exceed 13/
4 inches in width. Where there are 
decorative cutouts, spacing within the cutouts should not exceed 13/
4 inches in width. 
5. Where the barrier is composed of horizontal and vertical members, and the distance between 
the tops of the horizontal members is 45 inches or more, spacing between vertical members 
should not exceed 4 inches. Where there are decorative cutouts, spacing within the cutouts 
should not exceed 13/
4 inches in width. 
6. The maximum mesh size for chainlink 
fences should not exceed 13/
4 inch square, unless 
the fence is provided with slats fastened at the top or the bottom, which reduce the openings to 
no more than 13/
4 inches. 
7. Where the barrier is composed of diagonal members, such as a lattice fence, the maximum 
opening formed by the diagonal members should be no more than 13/
4 inches. 
8. Access gates to the pool should be equipped to accommodate a locking device. Pedestrian 
access gates should open outward, away from the pool, and should be selfclosing 
and have a 
selflatching 
device. Gates other than pedestrian access gates should have a selflatching 
device, where the release mechanism of the selflatching 
device is located less than 54 inches 
from the bottom of the gate. 
The gate and barrier should have no opening greater than 1/2inch 
within 18 inches of the 
release mechanism. 
9. Where a wall of a dwelling serves as part of the barrier, one of the following should apply: 
Other means of protection, such as selfclosing 
doors with selflatching 
devices, are acceptable, 
as long as the degree of protection afforded is not less than the protection afforded by the 
guidelines above. 
10. Where an aboveground 
pool structure is used as a barrier, or where the barrier is mounted 
on top of the pool structure, and the means of access is a ladder or steps, then: 
The release mechanism should be located on the poolside 
of the gate at least 3 inches below 
the top of the gate. 
All doors with direct access to the pool through that wall should be equipped with an alarm that 
produces an audible warning when the door and its screen, if present, are opened. The alarm 
should sound continuously for a minimum of 30 seconds within seven seconds after the door is 
opened. The alarm should have a minimum sound pressure rating of 85 dBA at 10 feet, and the 
sound of the alarm should be distinctive from other household sounds, such as smoke alarms, 
telephones and doorbells. The alarm should automatically reset 
under all conditions. The alarm 
should be equipped with manual means, such as touchpads or switches, to temporarily deactivate 
the alarm for a single opening of the door from either direction. Such deactivation 
should last for no more than 15 seconds. The deactivation 
touch pads or switches should be 
located at least 54 inches above the threshold of the door. 
.
The pool should be equipped with a power safety cover that complies with ASTM F134691. 
42 
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The ladder or steps should be surrounded by a barrier. When the ladder or steps are secured, 
locked, or removed, any opening created should not allow the passage of a 4inch 
diameter 
sphere. 
These guidelines are intended to provide a means of protection against potential drownings of 
children under 5 years of age by restricting access to residential swimming pools, spas and hot 
tubs. 
Swimming Pool Barriers 
An outdoor swimming pool barrier is a physical obstacle that surrounds an outdoor pool so that 
pool access is limited to adults. “Pool,” in this context, includes outdoor hot tubs and spas. This 
barrier is often referred to as pool fencing, although walls made from brick or stone are 
acceptable, as well. Children should not be able to get under, over or through the barrier. 
Why are pool barriers important? 
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), approximately 250 
children drown every year in residential swimming pools. In states where swimming pools are 
open yearround, 
such as Florida, Arizona and California, drowning is the leading cause of 
death in and around the home for children under 5 years old. Many of these deaths result when 
young children gain unsupervised access to swimming pools due to inadequate pool fencing. 
Codes concerning pool barriers vary by jurisdiction. Some states, such as Arizona, Florida and 
California, have compiled their own laws concerning pool barriers, while other locations rely on 
the International Residential Code (IRC). The CPSC has thoroughly researched poolrelated 
hazards and has compiled its own set of codes for pool fencing. The Australian government, 
too, has placed tremendous emphasis on the development of pool barrier codes in an attempt to 
reduce the number of deaths due to drowning in that country. The code below is taken mostly 
from the 2006 edition of the IRC and is substantially similar to the other codes previously 
mentioned. A few helpful parts of the Australian code are also listed. 
2006 International Building Code Pool Barrier Requirements: 
AG105.2. Outdoor swimming pool. An outdoor swimming pool, including an inground, 
aboveground 
or onground 
pool, hot tub or spa, shall be surrounded by a barrier which shall 
comply with the following: 
1. The top of the barrier shall be at least 48 inches above grade measured on the side of the 
barrier which faces away from the swimming pool. The maximum vertical clearance between 
grade and the bottom of the barrier shall be 2 inches measured on the side of the barrier which 
faces away from the swimming pool. Where the top of the pool structure is above grade, such 
as an aboveground 
pool, the barrier may be at ground level, such as the pool structure, or 
mounted on top of the pool structure. Where the barrier is mounted on top of the pool structure, 
the maximum vertical clearance between the top of the pool structure and the bottom of the 
barrier shall be 4 inches. 
The ladder to the pool or steps should be capable of being secured, locked or removed to 
prevent access. 
.
43 
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2. Openings in the barrier shall not allow passage of a 4inchdiameter 
sphere. 
3. Solid barriers which do not have openings, such as a masonry or stone wall, shall not contain 
indentations or protrusions, except for normal construction tolerances and tooled masonry 
joints. 
4. Where the barrier is composed of horizontal and vertical members and the distance between 
the tops of the horizontal members is less than 45 inches, the horizontal members shall be 
located on the swimming pool side of the fence. Spacing between vertical members shall not 
exceed 13/
4 inches in width. Where there are decorative cutouts within vertical members, 
spacing within the cutouts shall not exceed 13/
4 inches in width. 
5. Where the barrier is composed of horizontal and vertical members and the distance between 
the tops of the horizontal members is 45 inches or more, spacing between vertical members 
shall not exceed 4 inches. Where there are decorative cutouts within vertical members, spacing 
within the cutouts shall not exceed 13/
4 inches in width. 
6. Maximum mesh size for chain link fences shall be a 21/
4 inches square unless the fence has 
slats fastened at the top or the bottom which reduce the openings to not more than 11/
4 inches. 
7. Where the barrier is composed of diagonal members, such as a lattice fence, the maximum 
opening formed by the diagonal members shall not be more than 13/
4 inches. 
8. Access gates shall comply with the requirements of Section AG105.2, Items 1 through 7, and 
shall be equipped to accommodate a locking device. Pedestrian access gates shall open 
outward, away from the pool, and shall be selfclosing 
and have a selflatching 
device. Gates 
other than pedestrian access gates shall have a selflatching 
device. Where the release 
mechanism of the selflatching 
device is located less than 54 inches from the bottom of the 
gate, the release mechanism and openings shall comply with the following: 
8.1 The release mechanism shall be located on the poolside 
of the gate at least 3 inches 
below the top of the gate; and 
8.2 The gate and barrier shall have no opening larger than 1/2inch 
(13 mm) within 18 inches 
of the release mechanism. 
9. Where a wall of a dwelling serves as part of the barrier, one of the following conditions shall 
be met: 
9.1. The pool shall be equipped with a powered safety cover in compliance with ASTM F 1346; 
or 9.2. Doors with direct access to the pool through that wall shall be equipped with an alarm 
which produces an audible warning when the door and/or its screen, if present, are opened. The 
alarm shall be listed in accordance with UL 2017. The audible alarm shall activate within seven 
seconds and sound continuously for a minimum of 30 seconds after the door and/or its screen, 
if present, are opened and be capable of being heard throughout the house during normal 
household activities. The alarm shall automatically reset 
under all conditions. The alarm system 
shall be equipped with a manual means, such as touch pad or switch, to temporarily deactivate 
the alarm for a single opening. Deactivation 
shall last for not more than 15 seconds. The 
deactivation 
switch(es) shall be located at least 54 inches above the threshold of the door; or 
.
44 
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9.3. Other means of protection, such as selfclosing 
doors with selflatching 
devices, which are 
approved by the governing body, shall be acceptable, so long as the degree of protection 
afforded is not less than the protection afforded by Item 9.1 or 9.2 described above. 
10. Where an aboveground 
pool structure is used as a barrier, or where the barrier is mounted 
on top of the pool structure, and the means of access is a ladder or steps: 
10.1. The ladder or steps shall be capable of being secured, locked or removed to prevent 
access; or 10.2. The ladder or steps shall be surrounded by a barrier which meets the 
requirements of Section AG105.2, Items 1 through 9. When the ladder or steps are secured, 
locked or removed, any opening created shall not allow the passage of a 4inchdiameter 
sphere. 
AG105.3 Indoor swimming pool. Walls surrounding an indoor swimming pool shall comply with 
Section AG105.2, Item 9. 
AG105.4 Prohibited locations. Barriers shall be located to prohibit permanent structures, 
equipment or similar objects from being used to climb them. 
AG105.5 Barrier exceptions. Spas or hot tubs with a safety cover, which complies with ASTM F 
1346, as listed in Section AG107, shall be exempt from the provisions of this appendix. 
The 1994 edition of Australia’s Building Code offers the following suggestions concerning fence 
gaps: 
If a fence has gaps, they should be of such a size that a young child is prevented from slipping 
through, but the gaps also need to have dimensions such that any part of a young child's body 
cannot be trapped. 
Currently, the IRC makes no mention of regulations for “danger” or CPR signs that should be 
attached on pool barriers. The Australian Building Code offers the following concerning CPR 
signs: 
The CPR sign needs to be durable, and placed in a conspicuous place near the pool. It must 
detail the procedures necessary to undertake cardiopulmonary resuscitation. 
In summary, homeowners should try to spot and correct defects in pool fencing. 
Pool Alarms 
A pool alarm is a safety feature designed to alert adults when unsupervised children enter a 
pool. There are many different designs available, but none is foolproof. Pool owners should 
become acquainted with these innovations, the main types available, and the potential dangers 
of doing without. 
45 
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Drowning remains the second leading killer of children under the age of 14 and, in many 
Sunbelt states, drowning tops the list. 
Approximately 350 children under the age of 5 drown in swimming pools annually, mostly in 
residential settings. Many of these deaths occur when unsupervised children enter a pool and 
are unable to swim or exit, resulting in drowning or neardrowning 
within minutes. In these 
situations, pool alarms may have reduced the response time of adults, perhaps saving the child. 
In December 2007, the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act took effect, which 
created a voluntary grant program that encourages states to pass legislation for pool and spa 
safety. The bill requires states to write laws that call for pool alarms, as well as door alarms, 
pool covers, and selfclosing/
selflatching 
gates. Currently, however, only California, 
Connecticut and New York have passed such legislation. 
Pool Alarm Types 
Wristband: This device is worn around the child’s wrist and it cannot be removed without a key. 
The alarm will activate when the wristband becomes wet, which creates opportunities for false 
alarms, such as when the child washes his or her hands, or walks in the rain. 
In 2000, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) staff conducted a review of 
commercially available swimming pool alarm systems designed to detect water disturbance or 
displacement. The CPSC staff evaluated surface wave sensors, subsurface 
disturbance 
testers, and the wristband. The testers concluded that the subsurface 
pool alarms generally 
performed more consistently for true alarms than the other designs, which were more likely to 
emit false alarms. 
Since pool alarms are not foolproof and they rely on someone remembering to activate them, 
they should not be depended upon as a substitute for supervision, or for a barrier completely 
surrounding the pool. Pool alarms should also be used in conjunction with other types of alarms, 
such as gate alarms, perimeter alarms, and window and door alarms. Even some pet doors 
come equipped with alarms, owing to the recent attention given to the 100 or so documented 
accidents when a child escaped to a pool through a pet door. Pool alarms are thus one 
protective layer of many, none of which is sufficient as a sole preventative measure against 
child drowning. 
Pool alarms can be used to save dogs and cats, too. Data show that one out of every 1,027 
pets drown in pools each year, which is a statistically higher risk than the drowning threat for 
small children. The 
Surface wave sensor: This type of sensor floats on the water and incorporates an electrical 
circuit that includes two contacts. One of these contacts rests in the water, while the other is 
adjusted to remain above the water's surface. When a surface wave touches the abovesurface 
contact, the electrical circuit is completed, causing an alarm to sound. Sensitivity can be 
increased or decreased by moving the abovesurface 
contact closer to or further away from the 
water’s surface. 
Subsurface 
disturbance sensor: Mounted to the pool wall below the water’s surface, this type of 
sensor is activated by waveinduced 
pressure changes. One design relies on the movement of 
.
a magnetic float below a magnetic sensor, while another design relies on a pressuresensitive 
switch. Subsurface 
alarms can also be used in conjunction with solar covers, whereas the 
surface wavesensor 
alarms cannot. 
46 
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reason here is obvious: pets are more likely to be allowed to roam free and unsupervised 
compared to small children, especially in rural areas where nearby traffic is not a danger. Also, 
pool fences may thwart children, while dogs and cats can jump or climb their way to the other 
side. Not all dogs are good swimmers, though, and even healthy dogs that are used to 
swimming in ponds might not be able to lift themselves out of a pool when they’re tired. 
In summary, pool alarms are useful safety features to be used strictly in conjunction with other 
strategies. 
Pool Drain Hazards 
While drowning is a wellpublicized 
danger associated with swimming pools, comparatively little 
has been reported about injuries and deaths caused by pool drains. Water rushing out of the 
drain creates a suction that can ensnare swimmers, usually small children, causing debilitating 
injuries and death. These drains come standard in swimming pools, hot tubs and wading pools, 
and while they appear harmless, parents should understand the potential dangers they pose. 
Drain covers can break or be removed by people who are unaware of the possible 
repercussions. When this happens, a swimmer playing with the drain may become stuck to it in 
a way similar to how a vacuum will stick to the palm of the hand, but with much more force; 350 
pounds of pressure is normal for a pool drain, and public pools are even more powerful. This 
“suction entrapment” can hold the bather in the drain's grasp until the person drowns or 
escapes, often seriously injured. 
In July of 2007, a 6yearold 
Minnesota girl was hospitalized after being severely injured when 
she sat over an open drain in a wading pool. The suction from the drain, which did not have a 
cover, pulled out her small intestine, requiring her to be fed intravenously. She died months 
later, joining the 36 other people, mostly children, who are known to have been killed in similar 
accidents since 1990. The actual numbers are likely much higher, as physicians often do not 
distinguish drowning caused by drainage suction from ordinary drowning. 
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) distinguishes between five types of drain 
entrapment: 
1. body entrapment, where a section of the torso becomes entrapped. The CPSC is aware of 74 
cases of body entrapment, including 13 confirmed deaths, between January 1990 and August 
2004. The deaths were the result of drowning after the body was held against the drain by the 
suction of the circulation pump; 2. limb entrapment, where an arm or leg is pulled into an open 
drain pipe; 3. hair entrapment or entanglement, where a person’s hair is pulled in and wrapped 
around the 
grate of the drain cover. The CPSC is aware of 43 incidents of hair entrapment or entanglement 
in pools, spas and hot tubs between January 1990 and August 2004. Twelve of the incidents 
resulted in drowning deaths; 
47 
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4. mechanical entrapment, where jewelry or part of the swimmer’s clothing gets caught in the 
drain or grate; and 5. evisceration, where the victim’s buttocks come into contact with the 
pool suction outlet and he 
or she is disemboweled. While these accidents are rare, they result in lifelong impairment. 
While laws regulating swimming pools are complex and vary by state, it is still helpful for 
homeowners to learn the following ways in which pool drains can be made safer: 
Install an additional drain. According to the CPSC, “providing multiple outlets from the pool to 
the suctionside 
of the pump allows flow to continue to the pump, and reduces the likelihood of 
an entrapping suction from being generated when a body blocks one of the outlets.” 
In summary, accidents caused by pool drains are often gruesome, but they can be prevented 
when the appropriate pool safety devices are installed and children are adequately supervised. 
Pool Water Pathogens 
Germs from other swimmers and unsafe water supplies can easily contaminate pool water, 
especially if it isn’t properly disinfected. Contaminated recreational water can cause a variety of 
ailments and diseases, such as diarrhea, and skin, ear and upper respiratory infections, 
particularly if the swimmer's head is submerged. Homeowners should be familiar with the 
problems caused by contaminated pool and spa water and the ways to prevent them. 
Viruses, bacteria and protozoa are the culprits in most swimming poolrelated 
sickness 
outbreaks. The mucus, saliva, blood and skin of infected swimmers can directly contaminate 
pool and spa water with sufficient pathogens to cause infections in other swimmers who come in 
contact with it. Feces are a particular danger in pools, as the pathogens they contain are 
typically present in enormous numbers, approaching a million per gram of feces. A single fecal 
release in a pool could contaminate millions of gallons of water, according to the University of 
Arizona's College of Public Health. Large outbreaks of disease are uncommon and they don’t 
typically happen in residential settings, but they should alert homeowners to just how contagious 
pathogens are when they’re waterborne. 
Make sure that a drain cover is present and firmly attached to the drain. If the drain cover is 
missing or damaged, no one should be allowed to enter the pool, and a professional should be 
contacted immediately. As of December 2008, the CPSC required antientrapment 
drain covers 
to be installed in all public pools. 
Make sure there is a safety snap fitting serving the ground pool cleaner. These devices 
automatically suck away dirt and leaves, but if they become disconnected from the suction fitting 
at the pool wall, a hazardous situation can develop. A safety snap fitting is a springloaded 
stopper that will end any suction through the port if any disconnection occurs. 
Check to see if there is a safety vacuumrelease 
system. This device will cause the drainage to 
automatically cease if any entrapment occurs. 
Check for an antientanglement 
drain cover. This type of fitting is molded in a particular way so 
as to prevent hair entanglement. 
.
Use no drains at all. Gutters and overflows can be used to provide water to the pump without 
the need for a drain. 
48 
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Consider the following such cases: 
hepatitis A and noroviruses. 
Pool disinfectants can kill most germs in less than an hour, but for others, it can take longer. 
Cryptosporidium, for instance, can survive for up to 10 days in a properly chlorinated pool, and 
other pathogens are completely resistant to chlorine. In addition, the unique circulation patterns 
found in pools may allow poor water circulation in some areas, making it unlikely that all 
pathogen activity can be fully prevented. The unfortunate truth is that chlorinated swimming 
pools can and do transmit disease. Swimmers should not rely solely on the pool's chemical 
treatments and should heed the following precautions: 
Don’t swim when you have diarrhea. Diarrhea can be transmitted in pool water weeks after 
symptoms cease. 
In summary, pathogens can easily permeate an entire pool. Some are resistant to chlorination. 
Pool owners should know that chemical treatments for pools and spas are best supplemented 
with good hygiene. 
In 2001 in an Illinois water park, 358 people contracted diarrhea, despite adequate chlorine and 
pH levels. Swimmers can add up to several pounds of feces per day in a typical water park. 
Homeowners can benefit from learning about the basic pathogens that are commonly found in 
swimming pools: 
In 1998 in Georgia, 26 people were sickened after swimming in a pool with a child who had E. 
coli. Seven people were hospitalized and one was killed by the outbreak. The pool’s chlorine 
level had not been adequately maintained. 
In New Mexico in 2008, a competitive swimmer who ignored symptoms of diarrhea caused 92 
swimmers, including other competitive swimmers, coaches and lifeguards, to contract the 
illness. 
bacteria, such as E. coli, shigella (which causes dysentery), campylobacter, and salmonella. 
Bacteria are generally killed quickly by chlorine disinfectant in properly maintained swimming 
pools at a concentration of 1 part per million. E. coli, for instance, will be inactivated in less than 
one minute if exposed to typical disinfectant concentrations; 
protozoa, such as cryptosporidium (which causes diarrhea), and giardia, also known for its 
severe gastrointestinal effects. Some of these pathogens are highly resistant to chlorine and 
can survive for days in typical chlorine concentrations; and 
Don’t ever swallow pool water. Children sometimes jokingly spit pool water back into the pool or 
at their friends, but this is dangerous, as some of it may be swallowed. 
Shower with soap and water before and after swimming. 
Wash your hands with soap and water after using a toilet or changing diapers. 
Remove small children from pools for bathroom breaks, and check infants’ diapers often. 
Change diapers in a bathroom, not beside the pool. 
.
Wash children, especially their rear ends, thoroughly with soap and water before they enter a 
pool. 
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