Swimming pool: how dangerous are drain plugs?


The La Dune des Sables campsite in Les Sables-d’Olonne in Vendée was the scene of a tragedy on Saturday July 30. While playing in the establishment’s swimming pool, an 8-year-old Dutch girl got her hair caught in the bottom drain of the pool, the hole allowing the water to flow and filter.

Ouest-France reports that it was a swimmer who alerted the lifeguard. Despite her efforts, those of the firefighters who intervened as well as those of the members of the Samu who came urgently from the Nantes Hospital Center by helicopter, the little girl could not be saved and died as a result of her drowning.

Shocked by the scene, the lifeguard was taken care of psychologically and has now been released from the hospital. In the same way, a service has been set up in the campsite to take care of all people, customers or employees, who feel the need.

The Sables-d’Olonne prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation to precisely determine the circumstances of the tragedy. This case revives the fears of many parents who fear that a similar thing could happen to their child.

“In France, drownings constitute a major public health issue because they are responsible each year for around 1,000 deaths and, sometimes, serious sequelae. They are the first cause of death by accident in everyday life in people under 25. years.”, can we read on the website of the Ministry of Health.

Are bottom drains really a hazard to bathers?

For Thierry d’Auzers, president of the association of independent pool builders and pool builders, this type of accident is rare and “generally results from a malfunction”. “In collective swimming pools, there is an obligation to put anti-vortex bottom drains, to prevent a suction phenomenon,” he explains.

“In most swimming pools, when bathers are in the pool, the bottom drains are cut off because, even if the filtration is weak, it would be enough for someone to touch the valves to go to the maximum level, which could cause problems. ‘significant concerns.’, he completes before adding, ‘you should also know that, normally, next to collective swimming pools, there is a push button which stops all the pumps, all the filtration. is an emergency device that is mandatory.”

However, these safety devices are not present in private or family pools. Are they secure?

In family pools, the size of the pool and the amount of water are quite different. They are therefore not equipped in the same way. According to Thierry d’Auzers, “in family pools, the volume of water is much lower and the suction power is therefore also much lower.”

In terms of fittings, the expert explains to us that it is “compulsory to install anti-vortex bottom drains to prevent sticking to them.”

Finally, in some cases, “when the pool is large, it is then necessary to have two bottom drains so that the power is halved”, he adds.

Public and family swimming pools therefore remain very secure. However, as the drama of Saturday July 30 shows, an accident is always possible and it is therefore better to remain vigilant.