Like anything, pools and hot tubs come with their own inherent set of risks. But it's part of their function that perhaps might be one of the most dangerous things about them.
Just ask British mom Nicola Floyd, whose daughter is in a medically induced coma after a horrifying accident that happened on vacation.
Nicole told the Sun that she and her daughter were enjoying the hotel's amenities with a dip in the hot tub.
“I was sitting in one corner, and Isabella was in another corner trying to copy her mum," she said.
That's when her daughter started screaming.
“She was shouting ‘my tummy, my tummy.'"
She tried to lift her daughter up but she couldn't. Her bottom had gotten sucked into the hot tub's filter.
Nicola explained she held her daughter above the water while she tried to break the vacuum but it was too strong. Turning off the tub jets did nothing to release her.
She was finally freed when the power was shut off by a lifeguard.
Nicola told the Sun her daughter never cried — she was too shocked. Isabella is now in intensive care where part of her intestine had to be removed following serious damage to her bowel. The mother also explained the cause for her daughter's accident was because the hot tub filter was missing its lid.
Unfortunately, as rare as the incident might seem — it's not.
In 2002, Nancy Baker's seven-year-old daughter Virginia died tragically after she sat on the underwater floor drain of a hot tub. Baker told ABC News in 2010:
“I kept pulling at her, never understanding what was holding her down and I couldn't pull her off. I opened my eyes underwater and there aren't words to describe what this is like.”
The suction pressure holding her daughter to the bottom of the hot tub was later estimated to equal 700 pounds.
According to a 2012 report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), between 1999 and 2011, 106 people have been injured of killed as a result of pools, spas, and whirlpool bathtub “circulation entrapment.” 34 percent of cases involved being trapped by suction.
Of the 12 fatal cases, 11 were children.
ABC News reports that experts suggest the number of deaths and injuries may be higher as the specific causes for drowning are not always reflected in police reports and medical records.
In 2007, Congress passed the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act which is aimed at preventing drain entrapments and eviscerations by mandating new requirements for public pools and spas, such as proper drain covers and back up covers that do not provide suction.
The CPSC Pool Safely campaign urges parents to educate their children to stay away from pool drains as a part of safe pool use. Parents are also urged to make sure any pool or hot tub their child intends to swim in — either public or private — has compliant drain covers.
As Isabella's accident happened abroad there's no telling the pool safety standards being practiced at the time; however, her story serves as an important reminder that pool and hot tub drains are a very real danger.