Drain Cover Safety & Entrapment Protection

An exposed suction outlet (drain) presents a serious danger to children and adults. All drains must be protected by an approved cover, and if any cover is broken, loose, or missing, the pool should be closed immediately, and a PHTA professional should be contacted to make the necessary repairs and ensure compliance with the ANSI/APSP-7 2013 Standard for Suction Entrapment Avoidance in Swimming Pools, Wading Pools, Spas, Hot Tubs, and Catch Basins.

Entrapment Avoidance Guidelines


What is Suction Entrapment?

Suction entrapment occurs when something or someone becomes stuck to a drain or suction fitting in a pool or spa. It is a serious hazard, particularly for children, who are too small to break away.


How can you prevent suction entrapment?

  • If your pool or spa has a missing, broken, or old drain cover, have it replaced with one that is up-to-date and compliant with the new ANSI/ASME test standard.
  • Never let anyone swim alone, especially a child. A responsible adult should always be either right with the child, or actively watching.
  • Never run your pump at higher speeds than the recommended maximum. High water velocity can contribute to suction entrapment.
  • Make sure your pool or spa is protected with locked doors and/or gates to keep out small children and animals when you’re not there.
  • Make sure the emergency shut-off switch is clearly marked by a permanent sign, easily visible in the pool or spa area, so that anyone can find and use it within seconds.
  • Don’t let anyone swim or play near drains and suction fittings. It’s fun to feel the suction at a main drain, but it’s also potentially fatal.
  • Have your pool or spa inspected by a licensed industry professional. He or she can tell you if there’s anything else you need to do.


Learn more about what entrapment is and how to prevent it:

The 5 Types of Entrapment

Be aware of all five types of entrapment and learn how to protect yourself and family from danger:

  • Hair entrapment
    Hair can become entangled in an improperly covered drain.
  • Limb entrapment
    Arms or legs can get lodged and may not be able to be pulled free from an improperly covered drain, even if the pumps are turned off.
  • Body entrapment
    Any part of the body that covers a drain can be held down by the suction.
  • Evisceration
    Sitting on a drain with suction or a broken or missing cover can cause injuries or disembowelment.
  • Mechanical entrapment
    Fingers, toes, and items such as jewelry or a bathing suit can become entangled

Entrapment Avoidance Rules

Follow these important rules to avoid suction entrapment:

  • Never play or swim near drains or suction fittings. If a cover is not compliant, is loose, or is broken, your body or hair may be trapped, causing permanent injury or drowning.
  • Never enter a pool or spa that has a loose, broken, or missing suction fitting or drain cover.
  • Immediately notify the pool/spa owner or operator if you find a loose, broken, or missing drain cover. In such a case, the pool or spa should be closed and an industry professional should make the necessary repair or replacement.


The Virginia Graeme Baker (VGB) Pool and Spa Safety Act

The VGB Act was passed by Congress with the support of PHTA and its members. The Act imposes requirements for all drain covers, and requires retrofitting of all public pools and spas. The Act also encourages each state to adopt entrapment avoidance laws for residential pools and spas, and barrier requirements to prevent drowning.

Keep Your Pool or Spa Free From Entrapment Risk

These three steps will help ensure your pool, spa or hot tub remains free from entrapment risk. But remember, no single means of protection is effective against entrapment.

  • Have your pool or spa inspected by a PHTA professional to make sure your pool is built or serviced to meet the ANSI/APSP-7 2006 Standard.
  • There is no backup for a broken, missing or inadequate cover. Replace any broken, missing or non-compliant covers with covers that are marked: "VGB2009," "ASME/ANSI A112.19.8-2007" or show the swimmer logo below:
  • Pools or spas with a single main drain other than a single unblockable main drain, require additional protection. Options include:
    • eliminating the drain or reversing the flow
    • adding a second, properly spaced outlet
    • installing an SVRS (safety vacuum release system)
    • installing an automatic pump shut-off system
    • installing a suction limiting vent system
    • adding a gravity drainage system


The Check a Drain Initiative

check a drain

The ‘Check A Drain’ initiative reminds both homeowners and professionals to make sure pool, spa and hot tub drain covers are replaced per the manufacturer’s time requirement stamped on the cover in accordance with Federal mandates in the Virginia Graeme Baker (VGB)  Pool & Spa Safety Act. All units should be installed by an industry professional, in accordance with the drain cover manufacturers’ instructions.

PHTA encourages homeowners to contact their pool, spa and hot tub professional to ensure that all installed drain covers manufactured comply with the ANSI/APSP-16 Standard for Suction Fittings for Use in Swimming Pools, Wading Pools, Spas, and Hot Tubs. To check your drain and ensure your pool, spa or hot tub drain cover has not expired, contact a PHTA professional near you.

  • View the Frequently Asked Questions document here.
  • View VGB suction entrapment avoidance reminder to installers, builders, operators and service professionals HERE.


Pool & Hot Tub Alliance Strategic Partners:

  • Biolab
  • Fluidra
  • Hayward
  • Heritage Pool Supply Group
  • Lou
  • Lyon Financial
  • Pentair
  • WatkinsWellness
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