While the kids may already be back in school, the heat of the Houston summer continues unabated. That means that adults and children alike are still seeking relief from the high temps and humidity by taking cool dips in pools and relaxing in spas.
But there are hidden dangers in these favorite pastimes of Houstonians, and a major risk is that of entrapment in uncovered drains.
The danger is real
Most people have probably never even given a thought to how dangerous the suction from an uncovered drain can be. Indeed, many kids are amused by the way the suction holds their limbs or torsos fast to the side of the spa or pool. But the risk can turn into a fatality within minutes.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported 98 cases over one 17-year period of body entrapment in spas and pools, of which 15 involved fatalities. In all cases where the victims died, their bodies, hair or limbs were sucked into or otherwise entangled in the suction system of the circulation pumps.
The majority of the fatalities (39) happened in hot tubs or spas. Another 31 deaths occurred in pools, and three happened in children’s wading pools. One spa fatality involved a teenage girl whose body was sucked onto a 12” x 12” grate for the drain.
Most die from drowning
It only takes minutes to succumb to drowning if you are underwater and unable to extricate yourself from the suction of the improperly covered drain. But some victims die of evisceration if they sit on these open drains or press their abdomens up against the suction system.
Body parts are not the only thing that can get sucked into a drain. Long hair and even jewelry can cause an entanglement that holds the victims heads underwater until they drown.
Owners face liability
It’s incumbent upon property owners to maintain safe premises free of hazards to guests and/or the public. One such way of reducing drain entrapment hazards is by installing safety-vacuum release systems (SVRSs) or other drain covers.
Was a family member killed or injured as a result of an entrapment or entanglement incident in a spa or pool? You may be able to pursue compensation for your losses and damages by filing a civil suit in the Harris County civil courts.