& SPA NEWS NOVEMBER 20, 1996
In response to this incident, CPSC
issued a recommendation that all spas be retrofitted with cut-off
switches in plain view of the water, if they don’t already have one.
(At this writing, the New Jersey state legislature is
expected to pass a law requiring such retrofits, as well as, requiring
mandatory inspections of drain covers and prohibiting single suction
Another concept now under consideration by CPSC and
other regulatory’ agencies is the use of an automatic cut-off switch.
One such device currently under development is known as the Stingl
Switch. Named for its inventor. David Stingl of McLean. Va. the device
connects a vacuum switch to a pump’s strainer pot via a plastic tube.
When the switch senses a sudden increase in vacuum pressure, it opens a
relay wired to the motors power supply, thus turning off the pump and
relieving the suction pressure.
Either type of switch could help prevent drowning,
says Rowley, hut would probably do little to prevent injuries resulting
"Some kind of shut-off capability
may have saved the young woman in New Jersey," he notes. but in
disembowelment accidents, the evidence indicates that these injuries
take place in a fraction of a second once the child sits on the drain.
"Again, to solve that problem" he says,
"we’re looking at eliminating single suction drains and
conducting regular inspections of grates and covers."
WORDS OF WARNING
The final preventive measure is to
simply warn people of the danger. On this front. CPSC. state and local
health departments and other regulatory agencies have issued public
health advisories about the dangers of suction entrapment.
"It’s never a bad idea to raise
awareness," notes Rowley. "We’ll never know how many
accidents will be avoided simply because somebody understood the risks.
But it’s obvious that this is the least reliable method of
prevention —and we need to do much
Doing more, he says, boils down to some very simple
measures. These include:
Prohibition of all single suction plumbing
on any new construction.
Mandatory retrofits on
commercial wading pools, spas and swimming pools with single suction
Mandatory and frequent inspections of drain
grates and covers in all commercial pools and spas.
The installation of handy shut-off switches
at all commercial pools and spas that are not currently equipped with
Last, and most importantly, say’s Rowley, solving
the suction-entrapment problem requires conviction and commitment.
"From an engineering standpoint. suction
entrapment is not a difficult problem to solve," says Rowley.
"Rather. It's a matter of raising awareness and having the guts to
take the steps necessary to prevent these accidents.
"Obviously, we’ve known what to do about
suction entrapment for a long time," he adds. "But 22 years
after we conducted the initial study, we’re still just talking about
what to do.
"If you ask me, the time for action is long