Ushers’ Near Tragedy Can Be Used to Educate Pool Owners of Available Safety Layers

Fortunately, the news of Ushers’ sons near drowning will hopefully have a happy ending but I would like to use this news to bring attention to what is really important when you are a swimming pool owner, parent, and caretaker of young ones near a swimming pool.

Some may consider this as opportunist, but I am using the famous singers name because I am hoping more people will read this and then in turn implement and walk away with a little more information that may save their child’s or other loved ones life. I am a big proponent of education in the area of pool safety so we can inform more people on the safety options and issues a pool owner needs to consider.

First some statistics:

Drowning is the 2nd leading cause of injury/death in the USA in children under 15 years of age

67% of all drowning events occur in backyard spas, pools and bathtubs with the majority occurring while the child’s supervisor assumes the child is safe indoors. (Door and gate alarms can help with accidental drowning’s by alerting adults when young ones leave the house without adult knowledge.)

A child can drown in as little as 2-8cm of water in as little as 30 seconds, less time than it takes to answer a phone call.

In the news today was a particular incident. According to news reports, Ushers’ son was entrapped by a drain cover which can be either a main drain that suctions the pool water up into the filter or a low suction line which is usually on the wall of the pool but just as powerful and dangerous should they not have the proper drain cover attached. Skimmers are also considered suction lines.

In recent years the Virginia Graham Baker Act (VGBA) was enacted to prevent such accidents. Commercial pools were required to update all their main drain covers and low suction line covers as well as other requirements to make the pool safer so that if someone or something blocked the drain the pump system would automatically turn itself off. Various Safety Vacuum Release Systems (SVRS) were created to be added to existing pools and new pools to eliminate entrapment.

Although the technology and materials are available, there are many existing pools where the need to update the system is not always mandatory so there are many pools out there with older drain covers and no SVRS so it is up to the pool owner to update. This is just one layer of safety a pool owner should be considering.

In this most recent tragedy involving Ushers’ son, what could someone do to prevent this from happening again: Update all the main drain and suction covers to be in compliance with VGBA, and of course inspect pools often to make sure all covers and safety equipment on the pool are secure and in proper working order.

If this situationon happens and you are the adult at the pool you should have someone or yourself immediately turn off the pool pump, have someone call emergency services and bring the person who is entrapped to the waters surface and if unconscious and not breathing begin CPR until emergency personnel arrive. The key of any adult supervision is to have your wits about you and staying calm so the proper steps can be taken to save a life. I like to tell our customers to always have someone who is knowledgeable in CPR whether it is mom, dad, an older sibling or the nanny.

There are so many different layers of safety available to the pool owner; while you may not be required to have all of these I do not see why a pool owner would not have every precaution available. Accidents will happen of course, and I do not know the full story of Ushers’ particular situation, I can only wish that he and his family have a happy and healthy outcome, but once again the wake up call has rung so please take a look at your own pool and make sure you are the safest you can be.

For more layers of protection and safety for your swimming pool go to: for guide books on Water Safety or check out our blog which has many articles on safety at
For CPR instruction and update courses visit


Information regarding the Virginia Graham Baker Act can be found at the Consumer Product Safety Commission website at