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.

Safety Issues imageCPSC recommends that parents and families be aware of the simple steps they can take to save lives in and around a pool or spa. These important water safety practices below are aimed at specifically reducing the hazard of drain entrapments and entanglements:

  • Keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings to avoid entrapments and entanglements
  • Make sure that loose items such as long hair, clothing or jewelry are not dangling when swimming in a pool or sitting in a spa
  • Ensure any pool and spa you use has compliant drain covers, and ask if you do not know
  • Consider installing a Safety Vacuum Release System (SVRS)—a device that will automatically shut off a pump if a blockage is detected—or any other automatic shut-off systems in your own pool or spa
  • Plainly mark the location of the electrical cut-off switch for the pool or spa pump
  • Know where the pool or spa pump switch is and know how to turn it off

If someone becomes entrapped, employ these critical water safety steps:

  • Turn off the pump immediately
  • Instead of trying to pull the person away from the powerful suction of the drain or grate, insert fingers or a small object between the drain and the person’s body to break the seal and then roll them off until they’re free
  • Have a portable telephone close by to call for help
  • Understand the basics of life-saving so that you can assist in a pool emergency

Read CPSC’s 2013 report on entrapment injuries




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.