WHAT IS THE VIRGINIA GRAEME BAKER
SAFETY ACT FOR POOLS & SPAS AND WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Poolandspa.com News, Las Vegas, NV,
January 13, 2009
In 2002 at the age of 7, little
Graeme Baker died in a spa after the powerful
suction of a drain entrapped her under water. While
some children unfortunately die each year from
swimming accidents in pools and spas, this little
girl was different. She was the granddaughter
of the former Secretary of State James A. Baker,
III. This brought the tragedy into the
spotlight. James A. Baker, III, joined Graeme's
mother, Nancy Baker, and Safe Kids USA in a
three-year advocacy campaign for the legislation.
Passed in 2007, the legislation
states that as of Dec. 19, 2008, every commercial
pool (and spa) nationwide is required to have
certain safety measures in place. All drains must be
outfitted with approved covers, and
single-main-drain pools need either split drains,
safety vacuum release systems, vent systems or other
approved methods. Un-blockable drains measuring more
than 18-by-23 inches can stand on their own.
You can read all the details of the law here.
This law does
not pertain to existing residential pools and spas,
unless they are being drained and renovated. All new
pools and spas must comply.
"While the loss of our beloved Graeme
will be with us always, our hearts have been lifted
by the passage of this common-sense piece of
legislation that will save lives," James Baker said.
"We are grateful to President Bush and the members
of Congress who are making sure other children are
protected from the kind of accident that took Graeme
Initially, this sounds like a great
law, right ? But as with many laws passed,
there are unforeseen unintended consequences of the
law. The first one is that it became active as
of December 2008, right in the middle of the worst
recession our country has ever seen. The
expense necessary for many public and municipal
swimming pools and spas is causing many of those
pools and spas to be shut down. Many of the
towns and cities and small condo and apartment
complexes that are covered by this law simply do not
have the money to comply with it. Experts say
that the costs to retrofit the suction and main
drain system of most units could be anywhere from
$2000 all the way up to $200,000, depending on the
complexity of the filtration system. In these
economic times, those costs are proving prohibitive
for may public pool & spa operators.
The next problem is that due to the
recession, many pool builders and spa companies have
closed down, gone bankrupt, or just gone out of
business because of the sagging pool & spa sales in
2008. There simply are not enough pool & spa
guys around to do all the retrofits right away.
And if that was not bad enough, there
are very few pool & spa product manufacturers who
have even started to manufacture the necessary
compliant drains and associated parts necessary for
compliance. Fueled by fear of possible future
lawsuits as well as generally declining sales and
lack of capital, many of the big parts manufacturers
are simply not producing the parts required by law.
As a result, we at Poolandspa.com
have had thousands of requests for pool & spa
complaint main drains, suction fittings and the
associated fittings and equipment.
Poolandspa.com is a strong advocate for the safety
of pool and spa users and for the dealers which
build, repair, and supply them and we generally
agree with the Virginia Graeme Baker Act as a means
of strengthening the safety of the pool and spa
However, as a result, it is now
illegal to distribute non-compliant covers for pools
and spas. Poolandspa.com takes its responsibilities
seriously and accordingly, Poolandspa.com has taken
all of our non-compliant drain covers out of our
inventory so that they may not enter into the supply
chain. We will no longer be selling non-compliant
drain equipment. We are actively seeking
compliant drain covers from the manufacturers and
will post any updates on our website as soon they
Unfortunately, many manufacturers are
not taking non-compliant products back in exchange
for compliant products. Therefore Poolandspa
will not handle or take back and non-compliant drain
equipment which may have been previously purchased.
As far as we know right now (as of
January 2009) none of the major manufacturers have
any stock on compliant equipment and parts.
This includes all the biggies like Hayward,
American, Pentair, etc. One bright exception
of this is found in Waterway Plastics, which has
willingly worked with our suppliers in exchanging
inventory. We would like to congratulate Waterway
Plastics for their efforts which go above and beyond
those generally seen at the manufacturer level.
At this point, Waterway plastics has manufactured a
complete swimming pool main drain unit that is 100%
compliant and must be purchased as a complete unit
(not just the drain cover). As you can imagine
the waiting list for this unit is huge, and
honestly, there will be no way that they will be
able to fulfill the nationwide need for compliant
Poolandspa.com is taking waiting list
requests for compliant pool & spa main drain units.
If you own or manage a public or semi-public pool or
spa, and think you may need equipment to comply with
the law, please send an email to us at
firstname.lastname@example.org and we will
notify you when equipment becomes available.
Please realize that this equipment will be
exceedingly expensive, and very hard to get, and the
wait times will most likely be months, if not years.
Also please realize that only approved installers
can do the installation (as per the details of the
law), and that YOU MAY NOT OPERATE THE POOL OR SPA
until the new drains are installed.
As you can see, these limits will
significantly affect ALL public swimming pools and
spas throughout 2009 and most likely throught 2010,
causing most of them to be closed to the public
until they are all retrofitted.
Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act - Original Legislation
WASHINGTON, Dec. 19, 2007
In a move that child safety advocates
say will save the lives of thousands of children, President Bush
today signed The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act of
legislation provides incentives for states to adopt comprehensive
laws that will protect children from life-threatening injuries and
deaths from dangerous pool & spa drains.
The law, which was included as part of a comprehensive energy bill
passed the House on Dec. 18 by a vote of 314-100. The Senate
bill on Dec. 13.
The law is named for the granddaughter of former Secretary of State
Baker, III, who joined Graeme's mother, Nancy Baker, and Safe Kids
USA in a
three-year advocacy campaign for the legislation. In 2002 at
the age of 7,
Graeme Baker died in a spa after the powerful suction of a drain
"While the loss of our beloved Graeme will be with us always, our
been lifted by the passage of this common-sense piece of legislation
save lives," James Baker said. "We are grateful to President
Bush and the
members of Congress who are making sure other children are protected
kind of accident that took Graeme from us."
Nancy Baker agreed. "This legislation helps give meaning to
circumstances that took her life and the lives of many other
said. "It is a tribute to these children and their grieving
this bill will prevent injuries and death as a result of drowning.
would be honored that it is in her name."
Specifically, the law will:
-- Prohibit the manufacture, sale or distribution of drain covers
that do not
meet anti-entrapment safety standards established by the U.S.
Safety Commission. The legislation includes a directive for
the CPSC to
establish a safety standard for anti-entrapment drain covers.
ensure that all drain covers available in the marketplace would
certain safety criteria.
-- Create an incentive grant program for states to adopt
and spa safety laws requiring certain safety devices in swimming
spas to protect children. The legislation would provide grants
to states that
pass a comprehensive swimming pool and spa safety law. The
bill would require
states to use funds, if awarded, to hire and train personnel for the
enforcement of state law; and educate pool owners and operators,
construction and installation companies, pool service companies and
about the state law and about drowning prevention practices.
-- Establish a national drowning prevention education program within
Consumer Product Safety Commission. The bill would require the
CPSC to create
and administer an educational program to inform the public about
prevent drowning and entrapment in swimming pools and spas, and
national media campaign to promote awareness of pool and spa safety.
-- Require public pools to incorporate anti-entrapment drain covers
layers of protection. The legislation would require that each
public pool and
spa be equipped with anti-entrapment drain covers and other layers
protection, such as safety vacuum release systems.
Victory for children, parents, caregivers, and safety advocates
Drowning remains the second leading killer of children under the age
The law is the result of three years of work by Safe Kids USA, the
family, Congressional leaders, and dozens of other stakeholders.
"Safe Kids USA and the children we work to protect from accidental
death owe a huge debt of gratitude to U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman
U.S. Sens. Mark Pryor and Ted Stevens, the original House and Senate
of the bill," said Alan Korn, public policy director of Safe Kids
persistence and determination were key to moving the legislation,
mean that many children's lives will be saved."
Korn also credited other members of Congress whose help was
the legislative process. These included U.S. Reps. Bobby Rush,
Frank Wolf, John Dingell, and Joe Barton, along with U.S. Sens.
Dodd, Daniel Inouye, and Amy Klobuchar. "Their dedication and
this small, simple piece of legislation will have huge impact in
the needless injuries and deaths of children," Korn said.
For more information, visit The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa
Bill Web Page
Safe Kids Worldwide is a global network of organizations whose
mission is to
prevent accidental childhood injury, a leading killer of children 14
under. More than 450 coalitions in 16 countries bring together
safety experts, educators, corporations, foundations, governments
volunteers to educate and protect families. The organization was
1987 by Children's National Medical Center with support from Johnson