It’s a dubious distinction that Florida leads the nation in the drowning deaths of children ages one to four. In 2014, 444 Florida residents died from drowning, including 62 children under the age of five. Pools, open water, above ground pools, lakes, ponds, all pose a drowning hazard. What is not as well known is the issue of entrapment.
The Dangers of Pool Entrapment
Virginia Graeme Baker, was 7-years-old when she drowned in a spa accident in June 2002.
She was entrapped in the spa when suction held her down under water. Suction from a pool or spa drain can suck in a child’s skin, hair or bathing suit, entrapping them. Children are particularly susceptible to this horror.
The granddaughter of Secretary of State James Baker III, Virginia’s death inspired the VGB Law enacted in 2007 that mandates all pools and spas have federally compliant covers with an anti-entrapment system.
The CPSC is now offering $1.1 million in pool safety grants to state and local governments to help combat drain entrapments. The announcement was released January 2 and it gives applicants 90 days to seek grant monies.
The goal is to reduce drain deaths resulting from entrapment incidents in pools and spas.
Communities are encouraged to be compliant with the law by installing new safety drain covers and anti-entrapment barriers. Pools need to have physical barriers along with self-latching gates. Alarms around the pool areas should be in working order and pools need to have more than one drain. A safety vacuum release system needs to be available to shut off the operation of the pump when a blockage is detected.
The grants will also provide information to educate pool owners and pool operators about the pool and spa safety laws.
Keeping Your Loved Ones Safe in Florida
Teach your children to stay away from drains in pools and spas and make sure any pool is VGB compliant. It pays to ask! According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), from 1999 to 2011 there were 106 individuals entrapped under water which led to 12 deaths, all except one were children.
A Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act online course helps pool owners and operators know about all of the multiple safety steps.