A four-year-old British girl is recovering in hospital after being sucked on to a spa filter at a hotel complex in Bulgaria. The little girl’s mother fought to free her daughter, Isabella, after her bottom became trapped by the vacuum. Thankfully, doctors were able to save Isabella’s life. She is now recovering from severe injuries to her bowel and intestines, but had to be put into an induced coma. An incident of this kind is known as ‘entrapment’ and is entirely preventable, and only happens because what appears to be a perfectly safe outlet is, in fact, a potential death trap. Every year incidents of entrapment – where limbs and other body parts are caught via strong suction from drains at the bottom of either private or public pools – are reported in the media, tragically because the event often results in drowning. In the US, a report by the Consumer Product Safety Commission revealed that an average of 390 children drown each year in pools and from 2009 to 2013 there were 33 reported victims of entrapment.
HOLIDAY HAZARDS : Closer to home in Europe, Parents4Safety in Germany and The Blue Cap Foundation in the Netherlands conducted an investigation into swimming pool entrapment at 100 hotels and aqua parks in popular holiday destinations, including Spain, Turkey and Egypt. They found that in every swimming pool at least one hazardous circumstance was found that could cause an injury or an increased potential for drowning. None of the 100 investigated swimming pools would pass a sufficient safety inspection in accordance with European Standard 13451 and 31 were condemned to be dangerous and even life-threatening.
Many UK companies have been campaigning to raise awareness of the dangers of entrapment for years. These include Mineral Supplies International (MSI), which has supplied the Vac-Alert anti-entrapment device to UK and European markets since 1996. Installed on both pools and hot tubs, the Vac-Alert responds within a millisecond to any increase in filter pump suction; spring-loaded pistons open the pipe to atmosphere, freeing a person trapped by life-threatening suction. “Entrapment is a serious issue globally,” comments MSI’s Amanda Slade. “But what’s concerning is that many cases of entrapment are going unreported and are being put down to ‘accidental drowning’.
After all, no pool operator wants that type of bad publicity.” Amanda adds: “This is why we have been working with major holiday operators and cruise liners who want to demonstrate that they will put duty of care first every time when it comes to their customers.”
INCIDENTS OF ENTRAPMENT
February 2017: 4-year-old girl is trapped in the outlet of a hot tub at a hotel in Bulgaria, sustaining serious injuries requiring surgery.
January 2017: Woman reported a serious injury to her back when she leaned against a pool wall and was sucked in by a pipe, trapping her and causing serious injury.
December 2016: Swedish boy aged 18 months is sucked into the tube of a pool in Gran Canaria.
November 2016: Nine-year-old girl drowned at a water park in Brazil when her hair was trapped in the suction by the water slides.
October 2016: Five years after the death of Arnaud Honorez, his mother won the case against the tour operator. The hotel swimming pool did not meet safety standards and Arnaud was trapped under the water when his arm was sucked into the drain at the bottom of the pool in Tunisia.
June 2016: A five-year-old boy from the UK became trapped in a spa while on holiday in South Africa.