This December will mark the 10th anniversary of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush on Dec. 19, 2007.
To recognize the upcoming milestone during National Water Safety Month, the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security held a hearing in May to discuss the impact of the first federal pool and spa safety law. It heard testimony from the mothers of two children whose deaths and injuries largely rallied support for the law -- Virginia Graeme Baker and Zachary Cohn. The father of Abigail Taylor, whose severe injuries and eventual death resulted from an entrapment, also attended. Additional statements were made by APSP's president/CEO, Rich Gottwald, as well as the American Red Cross.
Nancy Baker, whose daughter Graeme was the law's namesake, acknowledged that no child has been entrapped in a public pool since the passage of VGB. However, she said drownings remain too commonplace and more work should be done to prevent them. She also advocated passage of a federal law to require four-sided fencing, self-closing and -locking gates and alarm systems.
"I am convinced that, were there a similar requirement, a specific standard set, regarding barrier fencing in private pools, we would see a great positive impact on the overall incidences of childhood drowning," she said.
In his testimony, Gottwald credited VGB with spurring new APSP standards and safety campaigns, including the International Swimming Pool and Spa Code, on which APSP collaborated with the International Code Council. "To say the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act was a seismic event in our industry is an understatement," he said. "In fact, VGB created a tsunami of safety awareness and education efforts by APSP and many others that reverberates today."