New Safety Requirements in Effect for Commercial Pools

A new law has gone into effect for commercial pools that requires these pools all to have drains with anti-entrapment devices. Without these devices, a swimmer, usually a small child, can become entrapped by the sheer force of the drain suction. Some children have even been eviscerated by the strong suction in pool drains. This new law is designed to insure no other entrapments occur. Pools must be compliant with the new law as of December 18, 2008, so now all commercial pools should have these non-entrapment devices installed on their drains. Below is more information from the Consumer Product Safety Commission. If you regularly use a commercial pool, e.g., a country club pool, a county park pool or homeowner’s association pool, now is the time, before summer, to verify with the Board of Directors that your pool has the proper drain and is compliance with this new law. We want to make sure all Georgia swimmers are safe this summer!

Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act
June 18, 2008 Staff Interpretation of Section 1404:
“Federal Swimming Pool and Spa Drain Cover Standard”*
On December 19, 2007, the President signed into law the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool
and Spa Safety Act, named after the daughter of Nancy Baker and the granddaughter of
former Secretary of State James Baker. Graeme Baker died in a tragic incident in June
2002 after the suction from a spa drain entrapped her under the water. This Act was first
introduced by Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (FL) and was supported by the Baker
family and Safe Kids Worldwide.
There is an annual average of 283 drowning deaths (2003-2005) and 2,700 emergency
room-treated submersion injuries (2005-2007) involving children younger than 5 in pools
and spas. In addition, from 1997-2007, there were 74 reported incidents associated with
suction entrapment, including 9 deaths and 63 injuries. The new law is aimed at reducing
these deaths and injuries by making pools safer, securing the environment around them,
and educating consumers and industry on pool safety.
The Act specifies that on or after December 19, 2008, swimming pool and spa drain
covers available for purchase in the United States must meet specific performance
requirements. Additionally, public swimming pools, wading pools, spas and hot tubs
must meet requirements for installation of compliant drain covers. New drain covers
which meet the current standard are now beginning to make their way into the
marketplace. Additionally, in certain instances, public pools and spas must have
additional devices or systems designed to prevent suction entrapment.
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) staff has prepared this guidance
document that spells out the technical requirements of Section 1404 of the Act, along
with CPSC staff’s answers to certain enforcement and legal issues. This document takes
into account comments provided to CPSC during an open comment period in March
2008. Comments were provided by a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, state
government officials, pool industry representatives, safety equipment manufacturers and
representatives, consumer safety organizations, and others.
CPSC staff urges all public pool and spa owners/operators, state and local health and
safety officials, and those in the pool and spa industry to carefully review this document
as they work toward complying with Section 1404 of the Act prior to December 19,
Contact CPSC at or 301.504.7908 if you need further assistance.
* This document, which was prepared by CPSC staff, has not been reviewed or
approved by and may not necessarily represent the views of the Commission.
Note: italicized language is taken directly from the Pool & Spa Safety Act.
Drain Covers: …each public pool and spa in the United States shall be equipped with
anti-entrapment devices or systems that comply with the ASME/ANSI A112.19.8
performance standard, or any successor standard…
Staff interpretation: All public pools and spas must have ASME/ANSI
A112.19.81 compliant Drain Covers on or after December 19, 2008. The basic
requirements of the ASME/ANSI standard are:
• Cover material must be tested for structural integrity
• Cover must be tested for body entrapment and hair entrapment/entanglement
• Cover must display a flow value in gallons per minute (gpm) that indicates the
maximum flow rate for which the cover has been approved
Main Drain: The term “main drain” means a submerged suction outlet typically located
at the bottom of a pool or spa to conduct water to a recirculating pump.
Single Main Drain: …each public pool and spa in the United States with a single main
drain other than an unblockable drain…
Staff interpretation: A main drain is a term usually referring to a plumbing fitting
installed on the suction side of the pump in pools, spas and hot tubs (a suction
outlet). Sometimes referred to as the drain, it is normally located in the deepest
part of the pool, spa or hot tub. It does not literally drain the pool, spa or hot tub
as a sink drain would, but rather connects to the pump to allow water to be drawn
from the pool, spa or hot tub for circulation and filtration.
Staff interpretation: The term “single main drain” means a submerged suction
outlet, with or without a skimmer, connected to a dedicated pool pump. A pool
may have more than one single main drain if it has multiple suction outlets that
are each connected to a dedicated pump. A group of suction outlets connected
together is considered a single main drain if the centers of the outlets are located
within three feet of one another.
Staff interpretation: Pools and spas with multiple main drains are not subject to
the requirements of Section 1404(c)(1)(A)(ii).
Staff interpretation: Multiple main drains consist of, at minimum, two fully
submerged suction outlets per pump, with drain cover centers at least 3 feet apart.
While no maximum separation is noted, the connections between the outlets and
the pump are important for proper operation and should be certified by a design
professional and inspected by a licensed inspector to ensure hydraulic balance
between outlets and the main suction line to the pump.
1 The current approved version of this standard is A112.19.8-2007. There is an Addendum moving forward
through the ASME/ANSI ballot process to correct errors in the test method for UV light exposure. The
prior version of this standard is 1987 (reaffirmed in 1996) and addresses only hair entrapment.