quote:Originally posted by Jolypha: Can it happen? Has it happened?
Yes. And yes.
I thought snopes had a page on this. We've debated it before. For the definitive, we go to our friend, PubMed:
quote:: J Trauma 1994 Nov;37(5):843-7 Related Articles, Books
Transanal intestinal evisceration following suction from an uncovered swimming pool drain: case report.
Hultman CS, Morgan R
Department of General Surgery, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill 27599.
Transanal suction from a swimming pool drain can result in intestinal evisceration. We report the eighth such case, followed by a literature review, description of the mechanism, and management guidelines. This bizarre injury, which has devastating consequences for the children involved, is completely preventable by installation of semi-permanent, anti-vortex grates.
Publication Types: Review Review of reported cases
This is a bit of a sore spot with me. I was a pool operator and life guard for 6 years and had the misfortune of being on duty at a community pool the day after 20/20 or 60 minutes or one of those shows did a feature article about some little girl to whom this had happened. Everybody bright enough to turn on their TV showed up at the pool demanding that I have the health department come to the pool right that minute to inspect it. Never mind that evisceration COULDN’T have happened at this particular pool. As Doc savage already pointed out, it can happen and has happened, but let’s be absolutely clear about what things would have to occur for it to happen.
1. A person’s behind must come in contact with a main drain, shallow skimmer or vacuum line. This is nearly impossible in a regular pool, because it’s nearly impossible to sit on a vac line or shallow skimmer, and very difficult to sit on the main drain of a large pool. It is easy to do so on the main drain of a baby pool.
2. The person’s behind must make a seal with the suction line or drain opening. I can’t imagine how this could happen with a shallow skimmer or vac line. Please, no one prove me wrong about this. It cannot happen on the large grate-type main drains popular in full size regular swimming pools, and, as mentioned above, would be difficult on the circular-type drains in regular size pools, as it’s difficult to sit down eight feet below the surface (difficult - not impossible). However, in a baby pool a child or adult would have no trouble sitting on the drain cover. If the drain cover were cheap, flimsy, poorly maintained or poorly attached, the drain cover could move or collapse, causing just such a seal to be formed.
3. There must be sufficient suction from the drain to eviscerate the bowels. This could happen in a full size pool if there were no shallow skimmers or they were all plugged (as is sometimes done to maximize suction for vacuuming), and if you were able to make a seal with the main drain. Not impossible, but unlikely. However, if the shallow skimmers were not plugged, the additional suction would likely be dispersed among them, allowing the person to break the seal from the main drain easily and without doing any harm. In a baby pool, there is usually at least one shallow skimmer, to which the suction can be dispersed. However, it is much more likely to be clogged with Barbie heads, legos, bit of diapers etc., than the shallow skimmers in a main pool. Even if the shallow skimmers are clogged, if the baby pool if filtered on an independent system, there is seldom enough suction to maintain a seal and eviscerate a child or adult. The problem occurs when the baby pool is filtered on the same system as the main pool and there are not enough alternate routes to disperse the suctions (shallow skimmers). This is because the suction created by a main pool filter system is much too great for the baby pool, and when it cannot be dispersed adequately, it does produce a seal that cannot be broken easily, and is capable of eviscerating a child or adult. Filtering both pools with a single system is very unpopular these days because a) it's against health department regulations in many areas, and b) it makes it difficult and expensive to maintain the higher chlorine levels required in baby pools.
What to do to protect your child? Check the main drain cover the in the baby pool. If it is sturdy and secure, your child is in no danger. If it is flimsy, poorly attached, or not present at all, alert the pool staff to the danger. If you want to feel extra-safe, be sure that the baby pool is filtered on a separate system. You can usually spot this problem without asking, because baby pools filtered with the main pool usually have a “whirlpool action” in which the water does not spin quickly, but a small “dent” in the water appears above the maindrain (you may have seen this in your tub). However, as long as there is a main drain cover that is secure, this type of accident CANNOT happen! Happy swimming.