Guest blog by: Joe Martin, Injury and Violence Prevention Section Chief, Arkansas Department of Health
Following a few simple pool safety tips can save lives.
With the heat of summer already here in Arkansas, many people choose to cool off by going for a swim. At the Arkansas Department of Health, we encourage parents to always ensure their children are swimming safely. There are some well-known safety tips that many people already practice, like applying sunscreen, or checking to make sure the water is clean and sanitary. But, did you know you should also be checking the drain covers in pools and spas?
All pools and spas should have drain covers that are compliant with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act (VGB Act). These covers can help prevent entrapment — which happens when powerful suction from the water circulation system causes someone to become trapped underwater. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that each year nearly 300 children younger than five drown, and an additional 4,000 go to the hospital due to submersion injuries in swimming pools and spas. Drain entrapment can happen when hair, arms, legs, fingers, jewelry or bathing suits become entangled or lodged in a suction opening or faulty drain cover.
To prevent entrapment, parents should know what a compliant drain looks like. Older drain covers that are flat are unsafe because they can create a strong circulation that easily traps hair or body parts. Newer, safer drains are designed to be curved to make sure they can’t be fully blocked by a body part. If you see a broken or loose drain cover, immediately notify the lifeguard at any public pools or the homeowner of a residential pool.
Another step parents can take to ensure the safety of their children is to educate children to make sure they know not to play around drains or suction outlets — especially in spas and shallow pools. Children’s public wading pools, other pools designed for young children, and in-ground spas that have flat drain grates and single main drain systems pose the greatest risk of entrapment.
Drowning can happen quickly and quietly, so parents should always keep their kids within arm’s reach.
For more information about pool and drain cover safety visit: www.poolsafely.gov