Late last month, President George W. Bush signed the
first-ever federal pool and spa safety legislation.
The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act passed
as an amendment to a 3,400-page comprehensive energy bill.
It mandates entrapment-proof drain covers and establishes a
grant program where money is given to individual states
when they pass laws addressing prevention of drowning and
“The passage of this legislation means fewer
children will die from drowning in swimming pools or
spas,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz
(D-Fla.), who authored the House bill. “Three
hundred thirty-five children died in the United States in
2004, and basic pool safety legislation would have
dramatically reduced those fatalities.”
Bill Weber, president/CEO of the Association of Pool
& Spa Professionals, said his organization backs the
new law. “I think it’s very positive for
the industry, and APSP feels good about it,” he
“Our objective was to be sure the language in
the bill that called for anti-entrapment laws was
consistent with our standard,” he added.
“That would enable us to take the standards to any
state that wants to participate and say, ‘If you
want to comply and participate in this program,
here’s the answer.’ That’s
precisely what happened.”
The law is very similar to a bill that was passed last
One addition came after a 6-year-old girl was entrapped
by a drain and eviscerated in a Minnesota golf-club pool.
The amendment states that within a year, all public pools
must contain a main-drain cover that complies with
ASME/ANSI A112.19.8. Existing public pools without those
drain covers must be retrofitted.
Public pools with a single main drain (other than an
unblockable drain) also will need a system designed to
prevent suction entrapment. These include a safety vacuum
release system, suction-limiting vent system, gravity
drainage system, automatic pump shut-off system, drain
disablement or another system determined to be as
On the residential side, all pools built after 2008 must
be constructed with such drain covers. All drain covers
manufactured and sold in the United States must conform to
the ASME/ANSI standard beginning next year.
Other than that, the law establishes a grant program
whereby states can receive money by passing safety
legislation. The Consumer Product Safety Commission will
administer the program and determine which minimum
requirements state legislation must fulfill to qualify.