Senators Introduce Bill To Make Pool Safety Guidelines Mandatory

WASHINGTON D.C. - Senators Mark Pryor (D-AR), Ted Stevens (R-AK) and Chris Dodd (D-CT) today introduced legislation to help prevent children from drowning in pools, which is the second leading cause of accidental injury-related deaths to children under age of 14.

The Senators said some pool manufacturers are not following voluntary safety guidelines and many pools remain a hazard as a result. Their legislation, the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act , prohibits the manufacture, sale or distribution of drain covers that do not meet the anti-entrapment safety standards. It also requires the Consumer Product Safety Commission to establish a national education program on pool safety.

His bill is named after the 7-year-old granddaughter of former Secretary of State James Baker who died in June 2002 as a result of suction entrapment. "Adult supervision is always a critical safety factor to prevent pool accidents. But when manufacturers put profit above safety, sometimes it's not enough," Pryor said. "This legislation is a simple solution to prevent major heartbreak." "Unfortunately, there have been numerous pool entrapment tragedies throughout the years.

This legislation is designed to lessen the likelihood that any person - particularly a child - will become trapped by a pool or spa drain," said Stevens. "The bill would require all manufacturers of pool and spa drains to produce and distribute only anti-entrapment drain covers, which will help prevent accidental deaths and injuries." "We should have no higher priority than the safety of our children," said Dodd. "While parents must do their part to keep their kids safe at the pool, pool manufacturers also must play a role in reducing pool safety risks.  We hope that with this legislation we can hold manufacturers accountable and help reduce the tragic casualties of pool related accidents." The Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Affairs held a hearing last year on improving pool safety and integrating pool safety technologies.

Experts testified that a significant cause of injuries and deaths in pools is related to the mechanics of filtration systems and pool architecture. For example, entrapment occurs when a child becomes stuck on a drain and is unable to escape due to the high velocity of the water being sucked into the drain. Another scenario occurs when certain body parts, long hair or jewelry get sucked into the drain, making it difficult for a child to pull free.

There are several ways for manufacturers to reduce safety risks in pools, such as installing multiple drains to lessen the suction force for each drain, installing anti-entanglement/anti-entrapment drain covers or installing a gravity flow or a Safety Vacuum Release System.