Possibly the most widely-known case of pool entrapment occurred in the United States. A 7 year old girl named Virginia became trapped due to suction from a spa drain. The suction held her under the water and despite her parent’s efforts to rescue her, she drowned. The United States has since enacted the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act which aims to implement safety initiatives to pool and spa facilities.
Canadian standards are put in place to help educate, govern and warn swimmers of pool entrapment. Health Canada and other resources speak to the overall sensible use of water facilities and owner responsibilities. National safety standards ask that “every owner and every operator shall ensure that they identify and render safe all hazards related to underwater entrapment and suction points within the swimming pool.”
It is important that pool owners/operators, parents and swimmers alike are educated, understand the associated risks and know how to take preventative measures. Measures may include:
- Properly inspecting the pool drains and systems to ensure they are modernized and safe and that older, dangerous models are replaced
- Educating all swimmers to stay away from pool and spa drains, pipes and other protrusions and openings
- Educating all swimmers to tie their hair back and remove loose clothing and jewelry before swimming