Early Thoughts on Entrapment

The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act is in full swing and Pools across the country will once again, become safe...right? As it turns out, it’s really not that easy. While creators and sponsors of this legislation were really trying save lives, an unintended consequence resulted. Today, millions of dollars are being wasted by throwing the proverbial “good money after bad.” Many of our Health departments, state pool codes, and even legislative processes attempting to “do good” are pressing on the economy of public pools when funding for these facilities is at an all time low. We are well beyond the day of Buster Crabb, Ester WIlliams, and Johnny Weismuller. Swimming will see a bit of a rise, with the phenomenal performance of Olympic Champion, Michael Phelps, but there once was a time when swimming was one of the top ten most popular activities.I hope it comes back.No one wants children to die in swimming pools. No one wants people to get sick in swimming pools. We repaired Hubble Space Telescope this week, surely we can stop entrapment. As it turns out, the solution to this issue is really nothing new and the very sad part is that public pool codes in 1928 were actually better in many ways than they are today. I really don’t know of another single industry where I might say that. We are not just joking and saying less regulation is better; what is irrefutable is that our pools were actually SAFER using building practices in 1928, than what states are legislating and mandating all over the country today.First, let’s review an actual entrapment case I recently found:Held for Girl’s DeathHarry H. Bond Jr., well-known sanitary engineer, and member of the A.S.S.E. and A.S.M.E., has just sent us the following newspaper clipping:Maxwell Berk, manager of the Ostend pool in Far Rockaway, Queens, was arraigned on a technical charge of homocide in Far Rockaway court yesterday in in connection with the drowning in the pool last summer of Helen Flynn, 18.Miss Flynn, who lived in Rockaway Beach, was sucked under by the suction from an open drain and was drowned before lifeguards could reach her.Magistrate Frank J. Giorgio released Berk in $5000 bail pending the actions of the grand jury.This is a warning to all pool operators. Certainly Mr. Berk would give much to bring this girl back to life, but, unfortunately this is nothing that can be done in the way of restoration.If in addition to these efforts in the interest of a clean pool the water is sterilized by some recognized system of sterilization, there need be no concern as to the quality of the water in the pool.All pool operators, however, can prevent a like tragedy. They should not, under any circumstances, permit a drain to be opened until the pool has been closed to patrons. And the guards should inspect the premises to make sure that ALL are at a safe distance from the pool.Drownings in swimming pools are very, very few. But even the few must be eliminated.- January 1930

Can you believe this? nearly 79 years to the DAY, that Kiah Milsom was killed in a tragic death in a Kentucky pool with an unnecessary drain, we find pool operators being instructed to never “open a drain” unless bathers are at a safe distance from the pool.Ironically, I found this article by accident while researching pool codes at the turn of the century. After nearly a decade in this industry, there are still many scientifically unsubstantiated requirements in state pool codes and no one really seems to know how, or cares, about where these rules came from. What absolutely floored me was that pool codes about circulation were more correct in 1928 than they are today.What will find is that in all but NINE states at that time, drains were not only unnecessary for circulation, but more importantly it was recognized that "reverse circulation" was actually SUPERIOR.
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