of tragedy, the physician will likely name the cause of death as "drowning" without much attention paid to what caused the accident in the first place.

"In the Baker case, we tried to resuscitate, but she was pronounced dead at the hospital and then it was finished for us," Schmidt says. "I don't see anything wrong with adding another box on the form [to report entrapment incidences], but I think ultimately the pool industry needs to police itself to make sure pools and hot tubs are as safe as can be."

Paul McCain, a firefighter in Sunrise, Fla., and co owner of Play Safe Systems, a company that makes an anti-entrapment device, says that he's been guilty of

I could have run

across a [suction

entrapment call]

and never knew it.

filing incomplete reports as well. "Every time I ran on a drowning call... it was reported as a drowning -nothing about how it happened," he says. "I could have run across a [suction entrapment call] and never knew it."

Between January 1985 and March 2002, there were 147 confirmed, recorded suction entrapment incidences, according to CPSC records. Fifty-one of those were hair entanglement, 79 body or limb entrapments (including three eviscerations), four mechanical and 13 unknown. Of the 147 incidences, 36 resulted in deaths.

Even though these figures are relatively low, it's clear the problem is underreported.


Jacquie Elder, the CPSC's assistant executive director for hazard identification and reduction, notes that most of the data is anecdotal, so the numbers are probably low. "We have ways to get [the information], a number of sources," she says. "[We use] hospital emergency rooms, death certificates, incident reports via news clips or reports to our hot line or Web site. But there are cases where it might be difficult to find out."

Still, safety experts think the industry can do more

"[Suction entrapment] doesn't happen as much as toddler drownings, but it's still horrible and the thing is, it's easily preventable," says Merle Stoner, owner of Poolguard, a North Vernon, Ind., manufacturer of pool safety products, and a member of the ASTM executive committee on consumer products. "Why do we have to wait until [the number of victims] goes above 10,000 before we do anything? The industry needs to be proactive."

What's to be done?
Over the past several years, the debate over just what to do about suction entrapment has polarized the industry. Some were initially taken aback when SVRS manufacturers campaigned to have states mandate their devices on public pools.


Danger below: Broken or missing drain covers increase the likelihood of a suction entrapment tragedy. Above: Unfortunately, even when drain covers are in place, a swimmer can still get trapped on a drain grate, as the markings on this entrapment survivor illustrate

"There is not one solution for all five forms of entrapment, that's for sure. So when the SVRS manufacturers portrayed themselves as the one solution, I think that's what got the industry a little angry," says David Nibler, director of new business development and marketing at Water Pik Technologies, a pool equipment manufacturer based in Newport Beach, Calif. "But now I think they've accepted the idea of layers of protection, and I see the industry accepting them more for doing that. I definitely subscribe to layers of protection - backup systems."

Though many industries blanch at the idea of government involvement in the way they do business, the National & Pool Institute (the industry's largest trade association) has been more agreeable to the idea as long as legislation focuses on layers of protection without mandating specific products.

Yet last summer, when the International Code Council revised its residential code, it added an appendix that calls for SVRSs on both single and multi source suction pools. Industry reaction was tempered somewhat by the fact that states adopting the new law have to specifically cite the SVRS appendix to lake it local law. While ICC officials now that 42 states have adopted the new code, there is no way of knowing how many also have taken on the SVRS appendix.

"I haven't heard of anyone adopting," says Paul Armstrong, vice president





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