Ticking Time Bombs

Trap 1The alarming increase in the number of media reports on entrapment accidents, highlights the fear that many pools and spas remain unsafe ticking time bombs for unsuspecting swimmers.

The danger is escalated when you realise how poorly management and lifeguards at many holiday resorts and hotels are trained to avoid entrapment risks. There are hundreds of thousands of pools installed at hotels and holiday resorts across continental Europe that may not conform to the correct safety standards, often because they are very old pools and do not have the prerequisite two main drains at the bottom of the pool. Pools with a single drain, poorly-fitted or with faulty parts pose grave dangers, as does the lack of understanding of the risk to life if a swimmer gets trapped in a drain.


Pool operators must exercise full responsibility and enforce rigorous safety measures to guard against accidents including entrapment. This includes regular testing of the pool structure and the water chemistry through to the provision of experienced lifeguards who are trained to deal with all types of incidents promptly.  Given the very real and present danger of entrapment, it should be high on the agenda of every hotel, holiday villa and water park, and a priority for tour operators who sell holidays to clients where a pool and spa is part of the offering.

Yet, there appears to be limited knowledge about the subject within the leisure industry. Put simply, entrapment is when part of the body becomes trapped in the powerful suction of a pool’s only drain. This is not a risk that a swimmer can see and thus cannot take care to avoid.


Whilst entrapment can occur because of a damaged outlet in a pool or spa, the root cause is the lack of two drains – a known and solvable problem.  A single drain can create intense pump suction as the water system is regulated. Getting too close to a single main drain leaves bathers at risk of being dragged into this vacuum which is almost impossible to break free of without the pool system being turned off, and that can take far too long.

Studies have shown that it can take 225kg of weight to release an object trapped on a single drain. Sadly these incidents are continuing to result in people drowning or sustaining terrible physical problems such as disembowelment – and children are seemingly at greatest risk of such incidents.


Pools and spas in all hotels, holiday accommodation, and water parks need to be regularly inspected to ensure that they are safe, and should undergo specific entrapment risk assessments. In fact, we believe that tour and hotel operators could play a vital role in safety improvements by requiring the operators of the holiday accommodation to submit regular reports on their pool safety checks. Wider knowledge and acceptance of the problem amongst the hotel and travel industry will lead to preventative action that will save lives. Not only will a greater focus on entrapment protect holidaymakers, it will ensure that the industry is not faced with lawsuits.

Find out more about entrapment by subscribing to Swimming Pool Scene at www.poolandspascene.com

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