MARYLAND

Pool warning exposed after Usher's son nearly drowns

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WASHINGTON (WJLA) - Usher's ex-wife, Tameka Foster, is filing for emergency custody of their two sons after one of the boys got his hand trapped in the drain at the bottom of the family pool. The singer, who has custody of their two sons, wasn't home at the time, but his aunt was watching the child.

The 5-year-old survived, but pool drain dangers are very common.

Drowning is a nightmare for the parent of every child, including Liz Dunham.

“Terrible,” she says. “Scary. I’m very protective of my kids when it comes to the pool. I watch them. I’m not the mom who relaxes.”

But there are safeguards. Under the Virginia Graeme Baker Act, named after the 7-year-old granddaughter of former Secretary of State James Baker, public pools are required to have at least two main drains and special drain covers. Private pools, however, are not covered by the mandate.

Baker was killed when she was sucked into a drain at a pool party. Suction can exert up to 900 pounds of pressure. 

But officials say deaths linked to pool drains can be prevented.

“A gravity system,” says Zach Hulet of the Montgomery County Department of Recreation, “so the water just cascades down into the pit.

Pool professional Howard Weiss suggests private pools have Virginia Graeme Baker-compliant main drain covers. The cover should be replaced every three to eight years because the sun and pool chemicals eat the plastic.

“Doesn’t take but a second to go from a very dangerous situation to a tragedy,” Weiss says.

Besides drain covers, there are other ways to keep children safe in the water, like pool alarms and cameras that email photos to your smartphone. Kids can also wear wristbands that go off like a smoke detector when wet.

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