05 Aug 2022 at 20:46Update: 3 hours ago
A nine-year-old Dutch girl got her hair tangled in a swimming pool grille in France last week and drowned. Is it wise to just plunge into any swimming pool? By Elise Vermeeren
“Suction constriction” is not an unknown term among pool operators. Publicly accessible swimming pools in municipalities are subject to an annual inspection, laid down in the Wet Hygiene and Safety Bathing Establishments and Swimming Facilities (Whvbz). The suction power of the water purification system is also examined.
In swimming pools, the water is continuously filtered through a water circulation system. In modern swimming pools, the water usually ripples over the edge and flows into a gutter, after which the water is filtered. In older swimming pools, this filtering often takes place via grids on the bottom or on the side. Behind the grids, the water is sucked away with a pump.
Those schedules are potential culprits. The suction power of the pump behind the grid can be too strong, so that a body can be sucked into such a grid. In modern swimming pools, spherical or pyramid-shaped grids are often used, which means that sucking in can almost no longer occur.
If long hair gets into the holes in the grille, it can become tangled behind the grille. The only thing you can do is cut off the hair very quickly, and certainly don’t try to pull the swimmer off with all the force.
To the pool? Braid your child’s long hair or make a tight bun. Parents of Nu puts the most beautiful braids together.
A stick with a tail
Herman Rijsdijk works at the Association of Sports and Municipality as an adviser to Swimming Pools. After the accident in France, more people came with questions about safety, he says. “There is great confidence in Dutch publicly accessible swimming pools, and rightly so. In addition to strict standards and legislation, swimming instructors are alert. Each swimming pool draws up its own supervision plan. In accordance with that supervision plan, the teachers position themselves at risky places in and around the swimming pool. . That’s also with the rosters.”
In addition to the statutory inspections, Dutch swimming pools can do even more for safety. 269 Dutch swimming pools also have the Quality Mark Safe&Cleanwith which they indicate that they adhere to additional safety requirements.
The inspections of municipal swimming pools are carried out by the provincial regulators, but the risk of suction is not actually measured.
The inspectors of the The Blue Cap Foundation do. This foundation is committed to safe swimming pools. The founders lost their child in such a tragic accident and have made it their mission to make all swimming pools as safe as possible.
They measure the suction power, which is worrisome from 300 newtons, and also go along the grilles with a simulated ponytail on a stick to determine possible hair entrapment. The Blue Cap certificate is subject to stricter criteria than other swimming pool quality marks, explains chairman Chris Geurts van Kessel.
A child-friendly resort is definitely not the same as a safe resort.
Chris Geurts van Kessel, The Blue Cap
Be alert to water play equipment
Devices such as mushroom fountains, water-spitting frogs and massage fountains are points of interest. Geurts van Kessel: “The girl who drowned in France last week was probably the victim of such a suction grille near a mushroom. According to reports, this was a modern swimming pool at a five-star campsite with water attractions, really a mecca for children. There is such a thing as a ‘child-friendly’ resort, which is definitely not the same as ‘safe’.
“To get a nice plume of water from such a mushroom, water has to be sucked up, and sometimes the suction grilles of such a device are still in the ground. There is then the chance that you will get stuck or get stuck with your hair. still. It goes right 99 times out of 100. Until it goes wrong again.”
Tips from Blue Cap Foundation
Explain to your children that they should stay away from grids and first make a circle together to point them out. Don’t play diving games where children dive to the bottom to find coins; the grates can sit on the bottom. Hairs can be sucked through the holes in the grate and become tangled behind the grate – always put long hair in a braid or bun or wear a bath cap. Keep a plastic bag in front of the grates or extraction openings to protect the to test suction. before diving into an unfamiliar swimming pool or a private swimming pool. If someone has their body sucked into a grid or opening, then pulling usually does not make sense. Try to roll someone off the grid. As a result, the vacuum usually disappears sufficiently to free the victim. Once the hairs are entangled in the grid, pulling usually does not make sense. Call for scissors and cut the hair immediately.
Why no emergency button?
The legislation on swimming pool safety is due for revision. The proposals are there, but the entry into force is annoyingly bureaucratic, says Geurts van Kessel. The new Bathing Water Act will become part of the new Environment Act, which is expected to enter into force on 1 January 2023. This is expected to coincide with revised European standards in the field of swimming pool safety.
Swimming pool operators have a lot of freedom in how they implement the revised legislation, but will be obliged to make a risk analysis. That’s good, because many pool owners themselves don’t even know how strong the suction power on the grids is, says Geurts van Kessel.
“It is not unwillingness, but ignorance. We now have this theme firmly on the agenda and there will be no pool operator who has never heard of this. They only unfortunately underestimate how strong that suction can be.” So-called ‘playfulness’ also plays a role, says the The Blue Cap Foundation chairman: rosters are sometimes unscrewed, leaving a life-threatening hole.
Why doesn’t every swimming pool have an emergency button that shuts everything down immediately? Geurts van Kessel: “Unfortunately, this is not always effective. After the pump has been switched off, a negative pressure can be present in the pipes, so that the vacuum does not disappear immediately. This will not help you if you get stuck.”
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