Pool Safety Council
Consumer Product Safety Commission
National Swimming Pool Foundation
The Zac Foundation
There has been a lot of recent media attention given to swimming pool drain covers. We consider the drain cover to be the first line of defense against drain entrapment. A properly designed, sized and installed drain cover will improve the safety of a swimming pool and considerably assists in avoiding an underwater entrapment. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is aware of 138 swimming pool and spa drain suction entrapments between 1985 and 2001. The problem is addressed in the Virginia Graeme Baker Act but, there are still questions for many on how best to create a safe solution.
In our opinion a good drain cover is made from durable plastics that resist degradation due to water flow over and through them. The plastic should be strongly resistant so any degradation due to sunlight. Metal fasteners should be made from 316L stainless steel. Metal drain covers are large enough to fall under the NEC (National Electrical Code) requirement for bonding, and therefore cannot be used as a replacement product. ASME publishes the actual
drain cover standard. To view the standard you either buy it from ANSI for $53 or view it free HERE
Dual Drain Safety Concerns
Many pool experts are not aware of a differential hold down force concern for dual drain swimming pools. Differential hold down force refers to the force holding down an object blocking only one drain in a dual drain swimming pool. The force is created due to the restriction of flow created by restrictions on the unblocked drain. Under the wrong circumstance, the hold down force on one side of a dual drain system can exceed 200 lbs, even though the other drain is unblocked!
To address the problem of differential hold down force, a dual drain standard has been submitted. To read the dual drain standard and the supporting test documentation please click on their respective links.
Unblockable Drain Concerns
The unblockable drain, as described in the VGB act is in fact blockable. Pictured at right is a man who was trapped underwater by an unblockable channel drain manufactured by AquaStar. This man was able to free himself but another body type with looser skin or less strength may not be as lucky. You can see the drain profile imprinted on his chest. Please CLICK HERE to read this article. Additionally CLICK HERE to view a TV news spot about a drowning in Hawaii. Incredibly this entrapment occurred on an 8' tall "unblockable" drain.
Drain Cover Safety Concerns
In an attempt to provide the consumer with the best information regarding drain safety covers we have put together a comparison chart. To date no entrapment death has ever occurred on a drain cover, regardless of design, that was properly affixed and flowing at 1.5 feet per second or slower. Impressively the State of Michigan has required a flow rate of 1' per second or less, through the open area of the drain cover since February 2001. Last year Indiana also adopted a flow rate of 1' per second. If one drain is completely blocked in Michigan or Indiana, the flowrate through the other drain will not exceed 2' per second.
We have intentionally left the Paramount SDX cover off of this comparison as there seems to be some discrepancy as to the open area of this drain cover.