The pool is a place where one usually feels pretty safe. They recall memories of past summers beginning: Grills finally fired again, the air takes on a more promising quality, crystalline pools and the deep azure of the ocean beckon a long-awaited return to the simple pleasure of taking a dip. No doubt, now that fairer weather is here, apartment residents will be flocking to property pools to cool off and enjoy one of summer’s most cherished pastimes.
But if a recent recall has anything to do with it, many may be disappointed when they arrive at their community pool. On May 26, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) released a statement announcing the voluntary recall of about 1 million pool and spa drain covers from eight different manufacturers.
The drain covers, deemed hazardous due to an incorrect rating of the speed which water can flow through them, “pose a possible entrapment hazard to swimmers and bathers,” says the CPSC newsletter.
For apartment owners and managers, that could mean a delay to the start of the pool season and unhappy residents.
The Problem in the Water
Drowning is the second-leading cause of injury-related death to children between ages 1 and 14, and entrapment deaths, in which a part of the body gets trapped against a drain via suction, can be amongst the most devastating. In June 2007, 6-year-old Abigail Taylor of Edina, Minn., became trapped underwater by the suction of a pool drain. She was rescued, but died nine months later due to complications from the incident. In June 2002, 7-year-old Virginia Graeme Baker, granddaughter of former Secretary of State James Baker, drowned, pinned to the bottom of a hot tub.
The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, put in effect December 2008, was written in response to an unsettling number of such pool-related child injuries and deaths, and requires the installation of drain covers or other devices to prevent entrapment deaths.
Each drain cover is given a rating representative of the maximum gallons of water per minute that should flow through the fitting. The rating is based on tests by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) for body and hair entrapment. Each drain cover’s rating should match or exceed the rating of the pool/spa’s circulation system.
Owners of pools with drain covers sold after December 18, 2008, that read “VGB 2008” or “ASME 2007” or have the ASME swimmer logo on them should contact their manufacturers immediately and close their pools and/or hot tubs until the covers have been replaced or retrofitted.
Waiting to Play
Atlanta-based Gables Residential's regional service manager in Boca Raton, Fla., Brian Hopkins said that as of mid-June, his properties are still waiting for manufacturers to send replacement covers for their wading pools and hot tubs, which use AquaStar and Hayward covers. The CPSC recall says that drain covers should not be removed until the manufacturer-approved replacements have arrived.
As of today, owners can expect a wait time of two to six weeks between reporting the issue and receiving the replacements, so industry operators recommend checking your drain covers as soon as possible. “Fortunately, in my region, we’ve been very lucky. The spa was due for a renovation anyway,” Hopkins says.
To date, he hasn’t heard any fallout or complaints from residents, but hopes that the manufacturers will come up with a fix soon.
No injuries have been associated with this recall as of yet. Apartment firms should contact the Drain Cover Recall Hotline at (866) 478-3521 or visit www.apsp.org/draincoverrecall for more information.