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How Many Pools in Spain Have Just A Single Outlet?

Circulation entrapment is a term used when a swimmer is trapped by suction generated by water rushing out of the drain of a pool, hot tub or spa. These injuries happen when a swimmer gets hair or a limb stuck on an underwater outlet. Unfortunately entrapment is most common among young swimmers, who generally lack the physical ability and strength to free themselves from the suction, leading to injuries and I believe the deaths of the Diya's family on Christmas Eve in Fuengirola.

If there are laws in Spain regarding this major problem, I have yet to see them! What we do have in Spain and throughout Europe is EN15288, Swimming Pools; part 2: safety requirements for operation. This document refers to PAS39 Management of public swimming pools and this states: Outlets; The flow rate through an outlet should not exceed 0.5 metres per second and there should be at least two outlets to each suction line. Outlets should be sized and located such as they could not become blocked by one bather. The Federation of Tour Operators standards say basically the same. The pool at Club Ia Costa did not comply with this excellent guidance. These guidance documents are not law but best advice and under European law, any potential hazard should be the subject of a competent risk assessment. If they have carried out a risk assessment it was obviously not a competent one.

The bottom drain suction risk can be seriously increased if water levels is allowed to drop below the skimmer overflow system and then 'valved' off to prevent the pump from 'air-locking'. This bad practice is often undertaken when the pool filters are cleaned by a process known as 'backwashing' where water is taken from the pools to clean the filters. The skimmer valves are then left off until the correct pool water level is restored by refilling. This is I believe what happened in Club Ia Costa. Ideally what should happen is the pool water level should be raised prior to 'backwashing' that can then be accomplished and avoid this hazardous practice. This is why 'backwashing' in the UK is only carried out after the pool has closed for the day.

Look at your own pool and carry out a simple test, push a plastic bag down using a pool brush or similar large enough to cover the outlet. If it sticks firmly on the outlet, so would a bather! Circulation pumps can also have a an anti-vacuum device that would open in milliseconds enabling it to shut off before a vacuum is formed. The cost to supply & fit, approx. 1000 Euros.

There have also been 'hair entrapment in spa pools and hot tubs in many countries. This is why in the UK we advocate not putting your head underwater in these facilities. A six-year-old British girl almost drowned when her hair was sucked into a swimming pool filter at a hotel in Lanzarote.

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