Pool drains in question as kids make first summer splash

By Jena Johnson - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Health officials are scrambling to check public pools, making sure they comply with new federal laws passed just a few months ago. Those laws mandate safer drains, but parts of that legislation need to be adopted on the state level before they can be enforced by inspectors. A state bill which would do just that is in limbo even as summer is here.

A bill that would tighten regulations on public pool drains may not be at the top of the list for Texas legislators, but it is for parents.

"Definitely drains, that's always an issue," said Mary Jane McKee, a mother.

McKee said child-safe drains help prevent tragedies.

"People getting their hair or bathing suit or articles you know stuck in the drain, that's always an issue," said McKee.

Mckee's children swim every summer in the Livewell Athletic Club pool. The state does not mandate the same regulations for private pools, but the gym's owner said he goes above and beyond state regulations.

"Every pump has multiple drains so if a child gets up against one he doesn't experience the vortex effect of being sucked down," said Randy Lowery, the Livewell Athletic Club owner.

For kids that do swim in public pools, the City of Lufkin said they are following all the safety rules.

"We're never had any suction problems with people being held down on the drains," said Don Hannabas, Director of Lufkin Parks and Recreations.

While they said drains will not be a problem here, one thing never changes.

"It's a constant battle trying to keep excited kids from running on the deck," said Hannabas.

"Don't run," yelled McKee to her small son.

As McKee's kids make their first splash into summer, she does not want it to be their last. Parents should ask pool operators if their drains comply with the new law. The current Texas legislative session ends in just a few days on June 1.

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