Drain Covers Raise Pool Safety Questions

By Ben Russell
|  Tuesday, Oct 29, 2013  |  Updated 4:32 PM CDT
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The near-drowning of singer and NBC's

Ben Russell, NBC 5 News

The near-drowning of singer and NBC's "The Voice" coach Usher's son has drawn increased scrutiny on pool drain covers. Usher Raymond V, 5, is expected to make a full recovery from an incident Monday when his arm became stuck in an uncovered pool drain.

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A recent near-drowning has drawn national attention to an often overlooked pool hazard.

The near-drowning of singer and NBC's "The Voice" coach Usher's son has drawn increased scrutiny on pool drain covers. Usher Raymond V, 5, is expected to make a full recovery from an incident Monday when his arm became stuck in an uncovered pool drain.

In 2008, Congress passed the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act that mandates that all public pools in the United States be equipped with anti-entrapment drain covers. But the law does not apply to private pools.

According to a recent report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were 94 reports of pool drain entrapment - where a body is held against a pool or spa drain by the force of the pool’s suction, or when an article of clothing, jewelry, hair or a limb is caught in a faulty drain. Of those 94 incidents, there were 12 fatalities, 79 injuries and three incidents without injuries, according to the CPSC.

The Anderson family in Arlington have a toddler and a newborn scrambling around the home. The family feels the pool out back can be seen as more intimidating than inviting.  

"I hadn't thought about the drain at all," Bryan Anderson told NBC 5. "We were just, we have a couple of kids so we were just thinking of the safety, in general, of the pool."

Tom Sheehy, of Crystal Clear Custom Pools in Waxahachie, has installed several of the new drain covers at backyard pools in Dallas-Fort Worth.

"It depends how many [drains] they have. Assuming they have one, if it can be retrofitted with a new cover, without us having to do any demo, you're looking at a minimum of $200 up to $400," Sheehy said of the cost to install a safe drain cover.

The newer drain covers have many more vents than older models do, and are raised up above the pool floor as opposed to being flush against the bottom.

If you're not sure what type of drain cover your pool has it's best to have it inspected, according to the CPSC.

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