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The Following is from the National Safety Council and was posted on May 13, 2000

Parents should encourage their children to "stop, watch and walk into the water," the USLA advises, because "perhaps more than any other trauma injury, [spinal injuries] can have severe lifelong consequences."

Pool- and beach-goers should take even the most unlikely precautions. In June 1998, as many as a dozen children were contaminated with the E. coli bacteria at an Atlanta water park, and one child died. The incident marked the first time that E. coli was reported in a public pool, and it was believed to have been caused by a sick child with diarrhea. According to the National Spa and Pool Institute, chlorine and other disinfectants generally destroy bacteria, but the levels should be monitored and should adhere to state standards. Additionally, toddlers should wear swim diapers designed to contain urine and feces.

WARNING:  This story is quite graphic and can be upsetting to some  - please use caution and discretion when reading this page.

POOL SAFETY:

A child screamed. She appeared to be stuck, sitting and squirming in the middle of the hotel’s wading pool. Adults rushed to her through the shallow water. Her bottom covered the drain opening. The resulting ruptured her rectum—she was being disemboweled. Fortunately, the six-year-old didn’t die, but her injuries were irreversible. An inspection of the wading pool revealed the drain cover missing. Later, investigators the hotel had no wading-pool inspection procedures. No previous inspection reports had ever been filed.

Common law mandates a hotel must exercise reasonable care for the safety of its guests, which includes children. Negligence is found when a hotel’s failure to exercise reasonable care is the proximate cause of a guest’s injuries. In my opinion, most jurors would conclude "reasonable care" mandates routine pool and spa inspections by competent personnel.

Unfastened, broken or missing drain covers can kill children. Kids like to stick their hands or feet in drainpipes while playing and they can be trapped by the suction. According to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, body entrapment incidents have resulted in drowning deaths in both pools and spas.

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CPSC Issues Warning for Pools, Spas, and Hot Tubs 

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is alerting consumers and public health officials to steps they can take to reduce entrapment deaths and injuries associated with pools, spas, and hot tubs.

The main hazard from hot tubs and spas is the same as that from pools -- drowning. Since 1980, CPSC has reports of more than 700 deaths in spas and hot tubs. About one-third of those were drownings to children under age five.

Other hazards include body part entrapment and hair entanglement.

Since 1980, CPSC knows of 18 incidents, including five deaths, involving children between the ages of two and 14 who were injured or died due to body part entrapment involving the drain of a swimming pool, wading pool, or spa. In addition, last week, a 16-year-old New Jersey girl drowned when her body was sucked down against a drain on the bottom of a spa. Her body apparently formed a vacuum seal against an outlet for circulating water and she was held underwater.

Under normal conditions, pipes leading from a pool's drain, or into the pool's pumps, draw water from the pool creating suction. If something blocks the pool drain leading into this pipe, the amount of suction will increase as the pump draws water past the obstruction. This increased suction can entrap parts of a person's body, causing the person to be held underwater. In wading pools, if a child sits on the drain outlet, the suction can cause disembowelment.

To reduce the risk of entrapment and drowning, current safety standards require that each spa have two outlets for each pump, lessening the amount of suction at any single outlet.

Since 1978, CPSC has reports of 49 incidents (including 13 deaths) in which people's hair was sucked into the suction fitting of a spa, hot tub, or whirlpool, causing the victim's head to be held under water. Hair entanglement occurs when a bather's hair becomes entangled in a drain cover as the water and hair are drawn through the drain. CPSC helped develop a voluntary standard for drain covers that reduce the risk of hair entanglement.

CPSC offers the following safety tips when using a hot tub, spa, or whirlpool:

  • Always use a locked safety cover when the spa is not in use and keep young children away from spas or hot tubs unless there is constant adult supervision.
  • Make sure the spa has the dual drains and drain covers required by current safety standards.
  • Regularly have a professional check your spa or hot tub and make sure it is in good, safe working condition, and that drain covers are in place and not cracked or missing. Check the drain covers yourself throughout the year.
  • Know where the cut-off switch for your pump is so you can turn it off in an emergency.
  • Be aware that consuming alcohol while using a spa could lead to drowning.
  • Keep the temperature of the water in the spa at 104 degrees Fahrenheit or below.

The foregoing warning was released by the Consumer Product Safety Commission  on June 3, 1996.

 

CPSC Warning On Drain Grates Of Wading Pools

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission today issued an alert to warn consumers of the risk of disembowelment to children associated with broken grates or missing drain grates on in-ground wading pools.

The Commission is aware of at least five tragic incidents involving children who sat on drain holes and were trapped. The children's intestines were then sucked from their bodies.

A 4-year old Pennsylvania boy suffered permanent injury when he lost 75-80% of his small intestine and his appendix while sitting on a drain hole at a private community wading pool. The grate (cover) to the drain hole had been broken and removed from the pool the day before the accident. In a similar incident in Birmingham, Alabama a 4-year old girl was trapped over a drain hole, and was released from the drain suction only after the wading pool's pump was turned off. Examination revealed that the child's intestines had been sucked from her body.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is investigating these and similar incidents and will take such actions as are needed to prevent further injuries. The Commission is also alerting state and local governments regarding this hazard. The Commission has discussed the potential hazard with the National Spa and Pool Institute (NSPI) and that organization supports CPSC's efforts to alert the public.

Each of the wading pools involved in accidents investigated has a pump that draws the water from the base of the wading pool through the drain hole to the filtering system and then returns the water to the pool. Children are attracted to the hole itself and the sucking action of the drain. The Commission urges parents to closely supervise children using wading pools and not allow them to play with drain holes or covers. The Commission and NSPI urges pool owners, managers and lifeguards to follow a list of precautions issued by the National Spa and Pool Institute as part of the organization's industry standard:

  • Shut down the facility if the drain cover is broken, damaged or missing

  • Immediately replace or repair broken or missing-drain covers

  • Inspect the drain covers (grates) daily to be certain that grates are in good condition, and cannot be removed without the use of tools

  • Operators, lifeguards and other pool personnel must know where pump shut-off switches are and have ready access to them

The foregoing warning was issued by the Consumer Product Safety Commission on August 9, 1982.

CPSC Warns about Pool Hazards, Reports 250 Deaths of Young Children Annually - Federal Agency Launches Drowning Prevention Initiative, Holding Public Hearings

CPSC, Industry & Safety Groups Mark Baby Safety Month with Drowning Prevention Campaign

Don't Swim With Shocks - CPSC, American Red Cross Warn of Electrocutions in Swimming Pools, Hot Tubs and Spas

Pools and Parasites- Keeping Your Child Safe - The Children's Digestive Health and Nutrition Foundation (CDHNF) Warns Parents about Dangerous Waterborne Bacteria and Parasites Peak During Late Summer

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