Aquatic Entrapment Guidelines - Wading, Zero-Entry, and Shallow Pools

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UPDATE: 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. For a more detailed explanation of both the entrapment risk and the new standard guidelines please refer to Aquatic Entrapment Guidelines – Pools and Spas.

To be in compliance with this standard both new construction and existing pools which have main drains that are located in less than 24 inches of water have actions that must be taken.

Zero-entry and shallow water pools that have multiple drains in less than 24 inches of water must have their outlets protected by approved covers or grates and must incorporate at least one of the following:

  1. additional outlets with approved covers or grates for a total of at least three
  2. a safety vacuum release system (SVRS)
  3. a certified vent system
  4. a gravity flow system

Wading pools may have an increased hazard of evisceration because of the shallow water level and the age and activity of the normal users. In all wading pools, both new construction and existing, at least one of the following requirements must be met:

  1. The wading pool must have dual main drains with approved covers or grates and at least one of the following:
    • an additional outlet with an approved cover or grate, for a total of at least three
    • a certified vent system
    • a safety vacuum release system (SVRS)
  2. The wading pool has a channel drain system in which the channel grates are at least 3 inches wide and at least 31 inches wide and are fastened to prevent removal.
  3. The wading pool has an overflow or gutter system that accounts for 100% of the outlet flow.
  4. The wading pool incorporates a gravity flow system.

Consult with your designer and engineers prior to new, retrofit, or corrective construction of a pool or spa to make sure that the necessary measures are taken and that the pool is constructed in compliance with all local, state, and federal codes as well as all ANSI / NSPI standards.

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