Did you know that drowning is the second largest killer of children under age 14? In response to this, but in reality likely due to the death of former Secretary of State James Baker's granddaughter, the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act 15 U.S.C. 8001 et seq. was passed on December 20, 2007. The requirements of the Act come into force December 19, 2008. Baker's granddaughter died in 2002 when she became trapped by a spa drain cover. Most old drain covers are flat and allow the swimmers body to become trapped against the drain cover. Younger children are unable to break free of the suction. One of the things the new Act requires is a special dome shaped cover, that helps prevent this.
Surprisingly, many municipalities and other organizations with pools are claiming that they were unaware of the Act and/or the effective date of its requirements and many claim that they will be unable to comply with its requirements. The requirements range from public pool drain covers, to special drain systems for public pools. Further, all swimming pool or spa drain covers manufactured or distributed in the United States must comply with American National Standard Institute (ANSI)/ American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) standard A112.19.8 - 2007 titled Suction Fittings for Use in Swimming Pools, Wading Pools, Spas, and Hot Tubs. A nice summary of the act, including an account of the complaints by pool owners can be seen here.
As these pool owners have known about the Act for over 1 year now, I
have no sympathy for them. The problem of children dying from drowning
and receiving other horrific injuries from being trapped is well documented.
Given the backlog of orders for the drain covers, and that many pool
owners are claiming ignorance of the act, it is very likely that you or
your children may be swimming in a pool that is not in compliance with
the Act this summer, or presently, if you swim in a facility with an
indoor pool. This summer make sure that the club or municipal pool that
your children are swimming at has complied with the Pool and Spa safety
act. Always supervise your children and attempt to locate the drain
area of the pool or spa and insure that your child stays away from that