A Florida toddler became entrapped in a
condominium pool on Aug. 24, prompting headlines across Miami news
outlets, along with a slew of misinformation.
During a swim lesson in Key Biscayne, Fla., the 3-year-old girl
had her arm entrapped in the pool’s vacuum line. As the
child’s parents took turns keeping her head above water,
rescuers chiseled into the deck and cut the pipe so the girl could
be released, her arm still encased in piping.
Yet even though the pool’s main drains were not involved
in the incident, the topic of drain covers somehow became the focal
point of many news stories.
“They kept saying ‘main drain,’ and I kept
saying to myself, ‘There’s something not right with
this picture,’” said Joel Cohen, principal at All
Florida Pool & Spa Center. “I hate to think about what
other stories I read out there that have misinformation, but this
one was really done wrong.”
Despite live video coverage of the incident, headlines such as
“Key Biscayne Pool Accident Highlights the Need for Drain
Covers” and “Child Rescued from Pool Drain”
peppered the home pages of local news Websites over the next 48
Even follow-up reports claimed the girl’s arm was
entrapped by the pool’s skimmer.
“The makers of the skimmers where the vacuum is plugged in
need to make covers, so that children can't stick their hands in
there,” Miami Fire-Rescue spokesman Peter Gomez told the
But, of course, vacuum lines would be rendered ineffectual with
a drain cover.
However, state code does mandate that vacuum lines are covered
by spring-loaded safety caps. The condominium pool had a missing
cap and a valve that was inexplicably left open during occupancy
“If it had [a cap] in place, nothing would have
happened,” said Steve Bludsworth, owner of All-Pool Service
& Supply in Orlando, Fla. “It’s kind of like if
somebody left an electrical plate off an electrical outlet and got
Still, because of misinformation, media coverage inevitably
invoked the enforcement of the Virginia Graeme Baker Act, which
Florida’s Department of Health has delayed until
“There are hundreds of accidents every year where children
drown in pools, and states that are resisting enforcing the
Virginia Graeme Baker Act are essentially putting the public at
risk,” Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Shultz told
“ABC News” in light of the accident.
While it is unknown whether the pool was fully compliant with
the federal law, it was noncompliant with state code, illustrating
the need for a broader scope of awareness regarding pool