Defective Swimming Pools, Pumps, and Drains
The U.S. Consumer Product safety Commission (“CPSC”) reports that “there are approximately 250 accidental drowning deaths of children under the age of 5 each year in swimming pools and an estimated 2,300 children were treated in hospital emergency rooms for pool submersion injuries in 2004 – mostly in residential pools.”
Suction entrapment refers to the horrifying situation where a bather, usually a child, becomes stuck to a pool drain and held under water by the increased suction that is created when a drain is blocked by the bather’s body. The force of that suction is often powerful enough to hold an adult under water; however, it is usually children who fall victim to suction entrapment. Spa or hot tub drains pose the same danger. Our Miami, Florida dangerous swimming pool lawyers know that defective pool pumps, aging, broken, loose or missing drain covers and poorly designed pools are the culprits.
The CPSC received reports of 147 suction entrapment incidents between January 1985 and March 2002. 36 of those resulted in death. The CPSC admits that those numbers are likely inaccurate since most suction entrapment incidents are classified by emergency personnel as a drowning or near drowning. According to Pool & Spa News, “[t]hese incidents range from hair becoming entangled in a drain cover to entire limbs getting sucked into uncovered drains.”
Children are often attracted to swimming pools and spas and fascinated with the current produced by their circulation systems. As a result, children are at higher risk of becoming the victim of a suction entrapment accident. The results are predictably catastrophic. There is nothing more heart wrenching than learning of a child whose life was lost or who suffered anoxic brain damage and must live out his or her life in a persistent vegetative state or coma.
Historically the pool industry has resisted proposed legislation that would require safety measures to protect against suction entrapment accidents even though there are several inexpensive solutions. Single drain pools and spas are the most dangerous. The elimination of single source suction is one solution to the problem. Pools with dual main drains allow air to flow through the second drain when the other becomes covered which, in turn drastically reduces the suction of the covered drain.
Another solution to the suction entrapment problem is the use of a safety vacuum release system (SVRS). An SRVS can detect when a drain is blocked by the buildup of suction and will automatically shut off a pool pump or interrupt the water circulation to prevent a drain entrapment. The use of Anti-vortex drain covers or anti-entanglement drain covers which are designed to prevent hair from becoming entangled can also eliminate or reduce the incidence of suction entrapment accidents.
The CPSC recommends “layers of protection” including barriers around pools such as a fence with self–closing, self-latching gates completely surrounding your pool to prevent access. Pool alarms and safety covers are also recommended along with close supervision of young children which is crucial in preventing accidental drowning deaths.
When defective pools, defective pool pumps or defective pool drains cause death or serious injury, the product manufacturer, pool contractor or installer along with the product distributors and pool maintenance companies may be held liable under Florida’s Product Liability laws.
The accidental drowning lawyers at Hannon Legal Group have successfully litigated many cases where a dangerous or defective pool, pool pump or pool drain resulted in the drowning death, brain injury or other catastrophic injury.