Drain entrapment is a little-known swimming pool and hot tub hazard that many parents haven’t heard of that can cause even the strongest swimmer to drown. Drain entrapment can occur when a drain is either uncovered or the cover is brittle, broken, or improperly attached. Without the protection of the drain cover, suction can pull hair, clothing, jewelry, or even a body part into or against the pool drain. If a swimmer’s head is pulled and underwater, they can drown.
In June 2002 7 year old Virginia Graeme Baker (granddaughter of former Secretary of State James Baker III) drowned after she was trapped underwater by the powerful suction of a hot tub drain. She became stuck and was unable to pull herself free. While Graeme died officially from drowning, the real cause of her death was suction entrapment due to a faulty drain cover.
After her death, Graeme’s mother Nancy Baker, her family and Safe Kids USA successfully lobbied Congress to win support for a law requiring anti-entrapment drain covers and other safety devices. The statute, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, was signed into law by the President in December 2007. To carry out the requirements of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act, Consumer Product Safety Commission launched Pool Safely: Simple Steps Save Lives, a national public education campaign to raise public awareness about drowning and entrapment prevention, support industry compliance with the Act’s requirements, and improve safety at the nation’s pools and spas.