The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (VGB Act)

Title 14 of the U.S. Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) is the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act. This act was named for Virginia Graeme Baker, who drowned in 2002 when the suction from a spa drain entrapped her under the water.  Efforts by her mother to free her were unsuccessful and when two men eventually were able to free her (postmortem), the drain broke from the force. Although Graeme drowned, her official cause of death was “suction entrapment due to a faulty drain cover”.  She was the granddaughter of former Secretary of State James Baker III.

At the 5th annual drowning symposium, in 2006, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz introduced her plan for legislation that would eventually become The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act. Congresswoman Schultz of Florida’s 20th district had previously introduced and passed pool safety legislation in Florida under the Preston de Ibern/McKenzie Merriam Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act of 2000. This act had shown success and promise as Florida’s death rate of newborns to 5 year olds in drowning fatalities reached its lowest level since 1998 in 2004 at a rate of 3.3 deaths per 100,000. Congresswoman Schultz considers her legislation the reason for this decrease in infant drowning deaths. She further believes that the simple addition of a four-sided fence could reduce infant fatalities from drowning and near death events by 50-90%.

The goals of the VGBA were to enhance the safety of public and private pools and spas, to reduce child drownings, to reduce the number of suction entrapment incidents, injuries and deaths; and to educate the public on the importance of constant supervision of children in and around water.

A pool contractor should verify that the pool and/or spa is in compliance with the federally mandated Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act which takes effect December 19, 2008. If the pool is not in compliance, the necessary steps should be taken to comply with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act, that, in essence, specifies that:

All public pools and spas, both new and existing, shall be equipped with drain covers compliant with ASME/ANSI A112.19.8 2007 standard.

In addition, all public pools and spas with a single main drain other than an un-blockable drain, shall also employ one or more of the following devices: separated drain system per ANSI/APSP 7, safety vacuum release system (SVRS) that complies with ANSI/ASME A112.19.17 or ASTM F2387; suction-limiting vent system; gravity drainage system; automatic pump shutoff; drain disablement; equivalent system determined by the CPSC.

At Urban Pool Services we only install Drain Covers Compliant with Pool Safety Act.

 

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