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Safe and Sound: Beware of the Hidden Dangers of Pool Drains

Summer and splashing in a swimming pool means fun for kids. But it can be dangerous too. Here, our expert warns parents to pay attention to the potential safety threat caused by pool drains.

One of the main safety hazards parents need to be aware of is pool drains. Located at the bottom or sides of swimming pools, they are part of the circulation system that pumps water into filters and distributes chemical treatments to keep the pool safe. But the suction caused by the pumping water can be strong, and sometimes swimmers, especially children and those who are lighter weight, can get stuck to the drain. The result can be an accidental drowning or serious injury.

Theresa Bellish, a water safety expert at NSF, explains that there is strong suction created by the drain, and it is important to have a certified drain cover. “The first thing that I do when I go to any pool is to check the drain cover,” she says. “I just know the dangers they can pose and I make sure it fits securely. If you ever are in doubt, it is okay to ask the pool operator at the hotel or public pool you are at about their safety measures.”

Theresa also recommends these safety tips for pool owners:

  • Install a safety vacuum release system which has a sensor that will shut the system off when the drain is being blocked. These systems should be tested and certified.
  • Know where the actual pool pump is located, especially if you don’t have a safety vacuum release system. In case of emergency, you will be able to quickly shut off the pump to stop the drain's circulation.
  • Don’t let anyone play on or near the drains.
  • Make sure the drain covers are properly installed.

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