Drain Entrapments

Learn about drain entrapments and how to prevent them.

Image of PoolNo matter how safe you think you are, every family benefits from adding new safety steps to their routine at the pool or spa. These additional safety steps could prove especially useful when it comes to entrapment hazards.

A drain entrapment occurs when a body is held against a pool or spa drain by the force of the pool’s suction or when an article of clothing, jewelry, hair or a limb is caught in a faulty drain.

Children’s public wading pools, other pools designed specifically for young children, and in-ground spas that have flat drain grates and single main drain systems pose the greatest risk of entrapment.

The best way to prevent these hazards is to recognize them ahead of time, and to use caution when in a pool or spa. The key entanglement and entrapment hazards include:

  • Body: A body part, often the torso or bottom, covers a drain and is held down by the intensity of the suction
  • Hair: Long hair is caught in a faulty drain cover
  • Limbs: Arms, legs, feet or fingers are lodged in a suction opening
  • Mechanical: Jewelry, bathing suits or other materials are entangled in a drain cover
  • Evisceration/disembowelment: When suction draws out the intestines and organs

Beginning in the 1970s, CPSC staff began investigating reported incidents of pool and spa suction entrapment. A recent CPSC report shows that from 2008 through 2012, CPSC staff are aware of 39 victims of circulation entrapments, including 2 fatalities, both children ages 6 and 14, 32 injured and 5 with no injuries

Preventing Drain Entrapments

Drain entrapments are frequently the result of an adult or child’s body, limbs, hair or clothing becoming entangled with a faulty drain. The best defense against entrapment is to prevent it before it can happen by being watchful in and around a pool or spa.
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Additional Entrapment Prevention Options

In addition to having a drain cover or another anti-entrapment device that complies with ASME/ASNI A112.19.8-2007, pools and spas operating off of a single main drain, other than an unblockable drain, must also add one or more of the following options:
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Who is Virginia Graeme Baker?

Seven-year-old Virginia Graeme Baker’s tragic death inspired her family to advocate for pool and spa safety and moved Congress to act to prevent entrapments. 
Read more about her story

The Pool and Spa Safety Act: Staff interpretation and updates


Find the most up to date requirements for the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act.