Aquatic Entrapment Guidelines - New Construction



Since the drafting of this article, the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act has become federal law. Although the terms of this law govern, the information below is still a useful reference to steps that can be taken to address entrapment hazards in conjunction with the requirements of the law. For more information on the Virginia Graeme Baker act requirements, see Virginia Graeme Baker Act Resources and Requirements of the P&SS Act.

The National Spa and Pool Institute and the American National Standards Institute have drafted a consensus standard to address the risk of entrapment in pools and spas. This standard applies to both new construction and existing facilities. A more detailed explanation of both the entrapment risk and the new standard guidelines can be found at our website in the document Aquatic Entrapment Guidelines – Pools and Spas.

If you are constructing a new pool or if you are retrofitting an existing pool, one of the following approaches must be taken to reduce the risk of entrapment:

  1. The pool is constructed so that the skimmer, gutter, or overflow system draws all of the outlet flow to the pumps. No main drain is required in this case.
  2. The gutter or overflow system draws water through a gravity flow system to a remote collector tank that is not bather accessible.
  3. The pool is constructed with at least two main drains with approved covers or grates for each pump in the suction outlet system. These drains must be at least three feet apart measured from the center of suction pipes, or must be located on two different planes. Water for both pumps must be drawn simultaneously through a common line. The flow rating for each cover or grate must not be less than the maximum flow rate of the system.
  4. The pool is constructed with a channel drain system. The channel grates must be at least three inches in width and 31 inches in length and must be fastened to prevent removal.
  5. The pool is constructed with a gravity fed system that draws water through a main drain into a collection tank that is vented to the atmosphere. The main drain must have an approved cover or grate rated for the maximum flow of the system. A modulating float valve allowing direct suction from the pump is not permitted unless multiple drains are used in which case each of the multiple drains must meet the same criteria as a single drain.
  6. The pool has a venturi-debris removal system (VDRS) that an approved cover or grate.
  7. The pool has custom designed outlet fittings, covers, or grates may be used provided that they are certified by a licensed professional engineer.
  8. The pool uses an alternative configuration that meets the intended purpose of preventing entrapment and has been approved by a competent designer and engineer.

Prior to construction of a new pool or spa, consult with your designer and engineers to make sure that at least one of these approaches is taken and that the pool is constructed in compliance with all local, state, and federal codes as well as all ANSI / NSPI standards.

Please call us at 800-463-8546 to discuss this or any other risk management safety tip, or visit our web site at to learn more about YMCA risk management issues.


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