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Pool Drains Are Not Toys: Viral Video Reminds Us to Review Pool Safety with Kids

Apr 27, 2018
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You may have seen a video going viral this week of two 12-year-old boys playing in a pool. One of them removes the cover from a pool drain and gets trapped underwater for several minutes after his leg became stuck in the drain. It’s a graphic reminder of the danger of playing with pool or hot tub drains and a good reminder for both parents and children to keep water safety in mind as we head into summer.

While the boy survived, his injury was completely preventable. Pool and hot tub drains are powerful. In just seconds, hair, clothing, jewelry and even parts of the body can get trapped underwater. As the video shows, the suction from some pool drains can be so strong that it can take several adults to free a trapped child.

If you are a pool owner, it is important for you to install the latest anti-entrapment drain covers and make sure the drains are well-maintained. Parents can check to make sure that all pools and hot tubs they visit – both in the backyard and any public pool – have compliant drain covers that are in good condition. Anti-entrapment drain covers have a dome-shape, while older, unsafe drain covers are flat.

Parents should also teach their children to stay away from drains and make sure there is always a responsible adult watching children when they are in the water, regardless of their age.

Every year in the United States, more than 1,000 children die from drowning and many more suffer life-changing injuries. Parents and caregivers need to be aware of drowning dangers and take steps to prevent it. Drowning can occur quickly and silently.

Our friends at PoolSafely.gov recommend six safety tips to stay safer in and around the water:

  1. Never leave a child of any age unattended in or near water.
  2. Teach children how to swim.
  3. Teach children to stay away from drains.
  4. Ensure all pools and spas – both in your backyard and any public pool you visit – have compliant drain covers.
  5. Install proper barriers, covers, and alarms on and around your pool and spa.
  6. Know how to perform CPR on children and adults.

If your child will be around a pool or hot tub at someone’s home – home, neighbor, friend, or family member – there are a few additional things to keep in mind:

  • More than half of pool drownings could be prevented if parents put up a four-sided fence – a house or dwelling does not count as a side – around the pool. The fence should be at least four feet high and have a gate that closes and latches on its own.
  • Use a hard cover and a lock on hot tubs when not in use.
  • Drain a wading pool immediately after using it.

Click to learn more about drowning prevention and pool safety from the Center for Injury Research and Policy.

Featured Expert

Laura Dattner
Center for Injury Research and Policy, Research Writer

Laura Dattner is a research writer in the Center for Injury Research and Policy of the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s. With both a health communications and public health background, she works to translate pediatric injury research into meaningful, accurate messages which motivate the public to make positive behavior changes. She has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Minnesota (go Gophers!) and enjoys spending time outside with her husband and dog.

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700 Children’s features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.