There is a hidden danger sitting at the bottom of every swimming pool -the
drain. If you have a single main drain that isn't properly maintained, the
suction power could be strong enough to hold an adult under water and could
be deadly for a child.
On August 18, 2000, Donna Bucy and a friend sat nearby as her
sons 8 year old Jordan and 6 year old Harrison went swimming in their pool.
"Jordan and Harrison were going back and forth from the pool
to the Jacuzzi," said Bucy.
One of the boys asked her to turn on the Jacuzzi, which she
did. "And Jordan said thanks Mom I love you," said Bucy.
A few minutes later, Harrison told her Jordan wouldn't get
out of the spa.
"They jumped on the cap and it broke and Jordan was down
there trying to fix it," said Bucy.
But the drain's powerful suction held him underwater.
"I jumped in, went down to get his hand out and it was lodged
in the drain," said Bucy.
Her friend tried, but Jordan's hand wouldn't budge. The
suction, she says, was too strong.
"I went around to turn off the pump, went to the garage,
turned off the breakers, then got a phone to call 911. All could think of
is not my son, not my son," said Bucy.
Donna Bucy estimates Jordan was underwater at least four
minutes once the suction released. He died in the hospital four days later.
Bucy is not alone in her grief. An estimated 124 entrapment
accidents have happened in the past 13 years, 25 resulted in death. So how
do you know if this can happen to you?
"It can happen. No two ways about it," said Ron Schroader,
Aquatic Safety Consultant.
A standard pool drain pulls water out to be filtered in the
pump, which directs it back into the pool. The concept is the same in a spa.
Pool contractor-turned consultant, Schroader says a simple
grate- type cover, common in older pools, can be dangerous for someone who
covers the grate with their body.
"If they laid on top, skin can be pulled underneath and we'll
have an mechanical lock," said Schroader.
Just as frightening, ABC7 has discovered that at least 5
children in the last several years were disemboweled as they sat on an
uncovered drain. But those cases happened in shallow, public wading pools
where children can easily sit on the drain.
"The suction of a drain of a pool is strong enough to hold an
adult male underwater," said Colin McTigue of Fulton Pools
ABC7 tried several scenarios.
First- an open drain in a 25-year-old
pool with a normally buoyant basketball. The pump wheezed as the ball was
held to the bottom. Once the suction was released, there was visible damage
to the ball.
Second -a cracked version of an anti-vortex cover, which
reduces suction power. Is common in newer pools.
grabbed a hold of a small doll's hair. For a child, the cracked cover could
In 2000, the Florida Building Commission changed the standard
for new pools to include the anti~vortex cover and dual drains, which
decreases the vacuum power.
But people like Ron Schroader, worry about potential hair,
jewelry or clothing entanglement. Those types of incidents have accounted
for 11 deaths and 40 incidents over the past 13 years. Schroader says
education is the best defense.
your children to stay away from drains. Drains are deadly," said Schroader.
"I can't believe that's what took the life of my son," said
Jordan Bucy would have turned 14 in May.
"I miss raising a teenager. Harrison misses his brother. I
miss raising 2 children," said Bucy.
The Florida Swimming Pool Association recommends you have a
licensed, insured contractor inspect your drain cover. They will check that
the plastic is in good condition and the screws are intact.
For additional safety, consider switching to an anti-vortex
or what is called an anti hair-snare type drain cover. That's the pie-shaped
cover that is now in Donna Bucy's Jacuzzi. There are also other more
elaborate systems you can buy for your pool that will shut off if it senses
Make sure you know the location of your pump cut-off switch
and most importantly stay away from drains and teach your kids to do the