I remember the first time I heard the name Graeme Baker.
It was summer 2002 and I was in New Jersey visiting Joel Caesar, who was then executive director of NESPA. We were in his car when he got a call from a pool builder, who told him that the 7-year-old granddaughter of former Secretary of State James Baker had drowned in a suction entrapment incident.
Joel is a compassionate man and his face showed real pain as he explained to me what he had just heard. “Those poor people,” he said. As we talked quietly about the tragedy and its implications for the industry, Joel stated, “This will cause a push for federal legislation.”
Here we are, almost four years later, and those words have proved prophetic.
Graeme’s mother, Nancy Baker, has joined safety advocates calling for increased regulation on pool and spa construction. It’s a contentious issue. On the one hand, many believe that every pool and spa should be built with a number of backup measures to protect against drowning and entrapment. Others contend that when it comes to drain safety, it’s enough to have dual systems and anti-vortex covers — and to require more is unnecessary.
Regardless of which side you favor, one thing is certainly true: The problem is getting more and more attention on a national level.
Recently, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) sponsored legislation involving pool building requirements related to safety.
Entrapment is specifically addressed in the bill’s language.
A second fact seems to be true as well: The safety activists are largely of a single mind. They are competent, organized and undeterred by internal politics.
Pool & Spa News doesn’t claim to know the solution to entrapment; we merely report on the problem. And that’s why we decided to profile Nancy Baker and her journey from bereaved mother to safety advocate. The article is written by Shabnam Mogharabi, and discusses Nancy’s quest for recognition of the issue and the industry’s response.
I anticipate that we’ll receive a lot of mail, both praising and denouncing our feature. Read it and let me know what you think.