and casting the product in a negative light. Suction entrapment, in particular, is an issue that has resulted in industry in-fighting and finger pointing over exactly how widespread the problem is and who should be held responsible, But one thing is clear: If industry members don't take aggressive steps to solve the problem soon, forces from outside the industry may do it for them.

Although no lawsuits have yet been filed in the Baker case, a family spokesman issued a statement to Pool & Spa News, clearly indicating that the writing is on the wall.

"The swimming pool and spa industry has been well aware of these risks since the late 1970s," says Robert T. Hall, an attorney for Nancy and James Baker IV, Graeme's parents. "Their products are especially hazardous to children. Since the 1980s, there have been at least 147 entrapment incidents documented, resulting in 36 deaths."

Hall goes on to say that the Bakers plan to hold the industry accountable for the suction entrapment phenomenon.

"We pledge to do all within our power to see that this industry meets its obligation to an unsuspecting public," he says. "[Graeme's] senseless death should be a wake-up call for this industry to accept responsibility for all such deaths and injuries and be accountable for the decades it has ignored its duties."

Today, the general public and even many within the industry, remain unenlightened when it comes to this issue. What exactly is suction entrapment and how does it happen? More importantly, how often does it happen?

 

A powerful force

Children are fascinated with the current created by a swimming pool's circulation system, often sticking their hands or feet in its path just for the thrill of feeling the powerful force of the suction. Litigators like to refer to such a thing as an "attractive nuisance."

That "nuisance" is compounded by the aging of America's pools, inconsistent construction standards and millions of unaware consumers.

Occasionally, drain covers break, or are removed by people who don't know the possible repercussions. When this happens, a swimmer playing with the drain can become stuck to the outlet much the way the hose of a vacuum cleaner sticks to your palm. The force of a pool's suction can be tremendous: 350 pounds of pressure for an 8-inch main drain with a standard pump. This "suction entrapment" will hold the bather in its grip until either the vacuum is broken, or he or she drowns, defying the rescue efforts of onlookers.  



 

 

There are actually five types of suction entrapment:

          Body entrapment (a section of torso becomes entrapped).

          Limb entrapment (an arm or leg is pulled into an open drain pipe).

          Hair entrapment or entanglement (hair is pulled in and wrapped around the grate of the drain cover).

          Mechanical (jewelry or part of the bather's clothing gets caught in the drain or the grate).

          Evisceration (the victim's buttocks come into contact with the pool suction outlet and he or she is disemboweled).

In the past decade, a variety of methods have been used to address the problem. Yet, the industry lacks consistent, nationwide training requirements

 

Entrapment survivors: These swimmers escaped death, but they bear the marks of their struggles. With a typical 8-inch main drain and pool pump exerting 350 pounds of pressure, the suction can create a powerful force.
 

 

 

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