Research detailing the number of pool and spa entrapment incidents recorded globally make shocking reading. Figures covering a six-year period from 2015 to 2021 show 229 entrapment incidents of which 76 were fatal. Incidents occurred in countries across Europe and as far afield as Belarus, China, and Chile.
Spain at 24 and then Brazil at 23, are by far the worst offenders, according to the figures, with 16 reported incidents in Italy, 13 in the USA and Russia as well as 12 in Indonesia. The data has been gathered from several sources including the Consumer Product Safety Commission in the USA, The Blue Cap Foundation, in the Netherlands and Parents4Safety, a German-based organisation.
The research study has been undertaken by UK-based MSi, in a bid to raise awareness of this on-going issue. MSi are the suppliers of the Vac-Alert anti-entrapment safety device. “There have been a worrying number of deaths and injuries resulting from bathers becoming trapped,” says MSi’s Amanda Slade.
“Most people affected by entrapment are under 18-year-olds. “Entrapment can happen as result of faulty outlets, but the main problem occurs in pools that have just one main drain on the bottom as opposed to two drains which are present in newer built pools,” she continues. “If swimmers venture too close to a single drain, they may find themselves drawn in by powerful suction and may find it impossible to break away. It is estimated that millions of older pools throughout the continent have single drains, so this is an urgent issue.”
Typical incidents include that of an 11-year-old boy who drowned in a public pool at Terrasson- Lavilledieu in the Dordogne, France, in 2015, when his leg became trapped in the powerful suction of the pool’s only main drain.
In a separate case, six-year-old Zachery Chon died after being trapped by the arm and a 14-year-old girl died in Tunisia after jumping into the pool. Adults have also suffered from entrapment, for example, 33-year-old John Van Hoy was trapped in a spa at Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort in Nassau.
All swimming pools are susceptible to entrapment unless they have a minimum of two main drains or are fitted with an anti-vacuum safety system. In the UK, modern pools are built to comply with BSEN 15288 and industry standards and have two drains which are arranged so that there is no risk of bathers being pulled towards them and becoming trapped.
“Retrofitting an additional main drain into a long-established swimming pool is complex and costly,” says Amanda. “It involves closing and draining the pool, installing the second outlet, refilling the pool, chemical treatment and re-heating the water. “This is a labour intensive and expensive process. Consequently, second drains are not installed in many overseas pools, leaving bathers vulnerable to entrapment,” she adds. “Commercial installation of a Vac- Alert is far cheaper than retrofitting an additional main drain, which would involve major construction costs.”
A cost-efficient and effective solution is an anti-vacuum safety system. The Vac-Alert is such a safety system – it will prevent a person being trapped by a drain. Vac-Alert responds within a millisecond to any increase in filter pump suction, freeing a trapped bather from a life-threatening situation.
Vac-Alert systems are used by some leading hotel groups to ensure their pools are entrapment risk-free. The full entrapment research data is now available from MSi, free of charge. Please contact the team via the details below.