What is the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act and How Does it Affect You?
Drowning is a leading cause of death of children between the ages of one and four years old. As a pool owner, it’s your responsibility to create a safe environment with the proper barriers and safeguards in place.
The government is helping to prevent these fatalities through the enactment of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act (VGB). Who is Virginia Graeme Baker and why does she have an act named after her? Keep reading to find out and to learn how this twelve-year-old law affects you as a pool owner.
What Prompted the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act
In June 2002, seven-year-old Virginia Graeme Baker became entrapped underwater by a faulty hot tub drain cover and died from drowning. Nancy Baker, the young girl’s mother, was unable to free her due to the strength of the suction. It took two men to pull her lifeless body away from the drain which ended up breaking from the force.
After her daughter’s death, Nancy began advocating for pool and spa safety. U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida sponsored the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act. It was signed into law by former President George W. Bush in December 2007.
As of December 2017, there have been zero drain entrapment-related childhood deaths in public pools and spas.
What the VGB Act Means for You as a Pool Owner
Though the federal law mostly regulates public pools and spas (including those in hotels, schools, and apartment buildings), residential pools must abide by the drain cover regulations too. VGB compliance requires replacement of old flat drain covers with the newer curved models that cannot get blocked.
The outlawed flat design creates a strong seal if completely covered. It also produces a forceful circulation that can pull in hair and cause entanglement.
In addition to the policies on drain covers, some states have incorporated other provisions of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act into their codes. Even if your state does not require these additional specifications, following them will make your pool or spa area a safer place.
Here are a few suggestions from the act as well as general safety tips to create a safer pool experience.
- Ensure drain covers are VGB compliant in any pools your family visits.
- Tell children to stay away from the drains and remind them often.
- Check drains for any cracks.
- Install barriers such as pool nets, covers, and alarms to prevent small children from gaining unsupervised access.
- Apply devices and systems to prevent entrapment by drains.
- Install more than one drain.
- Learn CPR.
- Do not leave children unsupervised in or near the water.