What is an Anti-Entrapment Pool Drain Cover

Water safety for kids is an extremely important issue, especially during vacation time when public Pools and Spas are available at all hotels and campgrounds. One dangerous issue is called Circulation Entrapment that now, is a preventable issue.  It can be rectified in all pools, Public and Private, and spotted in other pools and spas that your kids are using. What is an Anti-Entrapment Pool Drain Cover?

An Anti-Entrapment Pool Drain Cover is a drain cover that protects children & adults from the suction of the water circulation system in a pool or spa that can cause someone to be trapped underwater. Due to the old style or broken Drain Covers. There are 5 types of Entrapment:

  • Body
  • Limb
  • Hair
  • Mechanical
  • Evisceration

Drowning is still the number one cause of death in children between the ages of 1 and 4 and with the popularity of water parks and swimming pools, there are steps we can take to ensure all our kids don’t become a statistic.

Pool Drains

Are different events where a child or an adult can become held underwater by the unseen powerful suction of a Pool or a Spa and seriously hurt or killed. These events are called Circulation Entrapment.

There are 5 types of Circulation Entrapment that can occur:

Hair can happen easily. When hair is pulled by the flow of water through the openings of the drain cover. The swimmer’s hair will get tangled behind the cover and even shutting off the pool pump won’t set the person free. It’s already too late.

Body Entrapment is caused by suction created by the pool circulation system. Suction can be so powerful that an adult can be held down over the outlet and even if that person is a strong swimmer and is healthy they still won’t be able to overcome the situation.

These situations can happen on a floor drain or wall outlet for a pool or spa but it cannot happen if the drains have what’s called a VGB Compliant Drain Cover or Suction Outlet Cover is properly installed and intact along with secondary essential devices put in place where they are needed. The Pool Operator must know of these dangers and take precautions that these systems are in place and stay in place for the protection of the people using the pool.

Suction from the pool drains is also responsible for Evisceration or Disembowelment incidents in the pool. Evisceration happens when there is a single outlet with a missing or broken  Drain Cover. If a child sits on one of these openings the buttocks can make a seal over the opening.

This can happen fast and a huge amount of force can be created that the damage will be done quickly. If a Compliant Cover is installed and stays in place then Evisceration cannot occur. This is the reason installed VGB Pool Drain Covers are so important. Part of the problem that was amended was the flatter flush style Drain Covers that were used on all inground pools and Spas. President Bush mandated that all VGB Covers were to be installed on Public Pools. VGB Pool Suction Covers have:

  • Compliance Information
  • Life Expectancy
  • Flow Rate
  • Some Covers will have 2 Ratings 1 for Wall and 1 for Floor Drains

Qualified Personnel should measure the Flowrate for the Pool’s Filtering System and that information should be posted on-site with the other vital information for the pool. Each Drain that is used should be rated for the

Mechanic Entrapment can happen even if all the pumps are off in the system. It can happen if a ring or finger gets caught in an older style Drain Cover or a broken Drain Cover. Limb Entrapment can happen if there is an opening where a child’s limb can fit into. It’s important to notice these types of openings in the pool area because even if there is no suction or flow from the system, Entrapment is still possible.

VGB Approved Drain Covers


Before your kids jump into a pool at a hotel or friend’s house you probably normally take a look at it to see how the water looks or how clean it looks. Another important thing to look for should be the Pool Drain Covers. It’s something most people don’t do but a parent should add it to their list.

Especially in Public Pools and Spas at campgrounds and motels where there is not a lot of attention on them. No public pool or spa should be open if they are not in compliance with The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act.

The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act (P&SS Act) was enacted by Congress and signed by President George W. Bush on December 19, 2007. Designed to prevent the tragic and hidden hazard of drain entrapments and eviscerations in pools and spas, the law became effective on December 19, 2008.

The Grant Program continues to provide the money necessary to add the new anti-entrapment covers or other solutions that will resolve Public Pool issues. The application for these grants ends this year on June 5, 2019.

The money has been available for the last 10 years but that doesn’t mean that everyone has taken advantage of it or maybe did and the Drain covers were broken. It’s up to a parent or a swimmer using the pool or spa to visually check and make sure that covers are in place.

The law was named after  Virginia Graeme Baker, a seven-year-old girl who died from drowning due to a suction entrapment from a faulty drain cover.

Despite being a member of her community swim and diving team and the fact that her mother and 2 men came to her rescue to pull her from the pool suction drain, she drowned trapped by a suction drain at the bottom of the pool.

Because of Congress, tens of thousands of Public Pools and Spas are safer today because of Drain Covers and Backup systems that have been installed. Safety Programs have been instituted Nationally to teach Water Safety to Adults and children all as a community awareness program because of the death of this little girl.


A basic high-rate sand filter is just that basic and the parts that operate it are replaceable and can easily crack or break after hours of usage. There are signals to look out for and one is sand on the floor of your pool which is noticeable sometimes at the return lines which should indicate something broken inside the filter that will answer the question. Read my article called Why Am I Getting Sand in My Pool

Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act 


If you get anything from this your children need to know, Do not play or swim near drains or suction outlets, especially in spas and shallow pools. Never enter a pool or spa that has a loose, broken, or missing suction cover.  Parents can see the physical difference between old-style flat pool drain covers and the safety dome-style drain covers. Old-style drain covers will lay flush on the bottom of the wall of the pool.

The newer design is curved so the body can’t lay flat against them. A parent can confirm this with the pool personnel or even the Lifeguard. If they’re not aware of the law then they might not be aware of other things less dangerous. Children’s public wading pools, other pools designed specifically for young children, and in-ground spas that have flat drain grates and single main drain systems pose the greatest risk of entrapment.


 Anti Entrapment Pool Drain Cover

Terry Snow, outreach chairman of the Independent Pool and Spa Association, suggests that pool and spa industry professionals also recognize the need for safer drains, and provides several additional steps that parents can take to avoid entrapment hazards:
“Since 2008, swimming pools and spas are being retrofitted and designed to comply with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act.

Today’s drain covers are built with new standards. This has made the covers stronger and safer. Also, there are other options you can add for additional protection against entrapment:

  • Have a licensed swimming pool professional inspect the pool or spa.
  • Replace any broken, missing, lose or non-complaint covers;
  • Always think safety around water!”
  • Teach Kids to Always Stay from Pool Drain


How to Avoid Entrapment

  • If your pool or spa has a missing, broken, or just 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 the main drain—but it’s also potentially fatal.
  • Have your pool or spa inspected by a licensed industry professional?  He can tell you if there’s anything else you need to do.


Aqua Star WAV12WR101 12 x 12 Wave Anti Entrapment

AquaStar Anti-Entrapment Wave Grate Suction Cover – 24 x 24 Inch

You can find other anti-entrapment protection that is compliant with ANSI/ASME Test Standard through MyWaterEarth&Sky sold on Amazon that is reliable and fairly low cost for the peace of mind you’ll need as a pool owner.


All public pools and spas are required to comply with the (Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act (VGB Act), which mandates that all public pool and spa circulation systems be outfitted with a properly-installed anti-entrapment drain cover fitting.

Public Pools must take these actions Private Pools should take these actions can take these actions. Taking these three steps will help ensure your pool, spa or hot tub remains free from entrapment risk:

  • Have your pool or spa inspected by an APSP professional
  • 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

Some of the solutions offered by the pool and spa industry include the Elimination of Single-source suction Drain. This will eliminate some suction power splitting it up into different spots in the pool.
Another solution lies in a number of safety vacuum release systems, SVRS. These devices are designed to shut off the pump when they sense an excessive vacuum buildup.
Then the easiest and least expensive solution is to replace the old style Drain Covers with the new approved covers in pools and spas.


Public Pools no matter if they’re in the Holiday Inn or the neighborhood health club owe it to their customers to make sure they have a safe enjoyable experience in a healthy environment, especially your children.  There is no reason for this issue to be a problem in any pool any longer, especially with the new anti-entrapment covers that can absolutely solve the problem and prevent death and injury.

As private pool owners, 100 bucks or 2 can help make the difference between never worrying about what can be a horrifying experience happening to your family. Be careful this vacation summer or winter, especially at the smaller type pools that look like they might be on a budget because they probably are. Look for the proper Drain Covers and Ask if you don’t see them. It’s The LAW!



JimGalloway Author/Editor



Recent Posts