Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act: Refresher
Near the end of 2007, President George W. Bush signed into the law the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa safety act.
This federal law was created in response to the tragic drowning of Virginia Graeme Baker, a 7-year-old girl that was simply having fun in a hot tub. She was stuck to a suction inlet underwater, and could not be freed.
The Act, which was sponsored by Florida Representative, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, created a new mandate in regards to the style and lifespan of suction outlet (inlet) covers that are used in public swimming pools and Spas (hot tubs), as well as regulations on amounts of drains and needs for secondary anti-entrapment devices.
In short, the Mandate reads “All pool drain covers manufactured, distributed, or entered into commerce after December 19, 2008, must currently meet ASME/ANSI –A112.19.8 standards. All compliant covers must have a flow rating higher than the circulation system flow rate, must be installed in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions, and must not be expired. “
In addition, any public pool having single main drains, or dual main drains that are spaced less than 3 feet apart, must have a secondary anti-entrapment system. Some examples of these systems are; Safety release systems (SVRS), automatic pump shut off system (i.e. Stingle Switch), and suction limiting vent system, among others.
While local governing bodies may each have their own certification processes and interpretations, enforcement of the VGBA is with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
All VGBA approved covers are labeled with an expiration date. Installation date of your drain covers, as well as manufacturer and model number, should be posted at all facilities, in the case of inspection by the CPSC.
All of these policies are in place to prevent entrapment, which are defined in 5 categories:
- Bodily (torso or back held down by suction force of drain)
- Hair (caught or tangled on cover)
- Limb (arms, hands, legs, or feet lodged in uncovered inlet)
- Mechanical (bathing suit, jewelry or other worn item entangled in drain cover
As a pool owner or manager, it is important to be aware of this policy, as well as to make sure that your pool service provider is knowledgeable in regards to the VGBA Act and how it directly relates to your facility.
If you have any questions in regards to, or need further information about, the VGBA Pool and Spa Safety Act, please call 703-373-0350.