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Lisa Hallett Taylor

Who Was Virginia Graeme Baker?

By February 14, 2008

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The name attached to a safety act incorporated in a comprehensive energy bill (H.R. 6) approved by Congress in†December 2007 is an old-fashioned and dignified name. I wondered if a well-educated socialite had some sort of involvement in a pool or spa accident. Was she one of those people who simmered a bit too long in the hot tub and drifted off into a steaming deep slumber?

My curiosity led me to a search, where†I came upon a website that rattled my stomach. There was a picture of a 7-year-old girl -- a vibrant, natural beauty who looked around the age of†my own daughter. She -- the sweet-faced, smiling child in the photo -- was Virginia Graeme Baker. A twin sister and the youngest of five daughters born to Nancy and James Baker IV, son of former Secretary of State James Baker III. A classmate, a friend, a neighbor, a student, a good swimmer†and someone who had lots of love, support and potential on her side.

What happened?

All five girls had joined their mother for a mid-afternoon†graduation party at a friend's house in June 2002. Events happened quickly. A sister of Graeme (that's what they called her) pulled Nancy to the hot tub, where Graeme was sprawled at the bottom. Nancy jumped in, but she was no match against the force of the drain's suction. Two men took over and broke the drain in order to release Grame's body from the suction. Graeme was rushed to a hospital but was dead on arrival.

During her profound grieving, Nancy Baker consulted with her father-in-law on the tragedy and decided to make pool and spa safety -- particularly anti-entrapment drain covers -- her mission. More than three years of dedication and activism resulted in the approval of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act.

One rarely "gets over" the death of a loved one, especially if it's a premature death. While Nancy is still haunted by the image of Graeme's listless body, she continues on. Driven by Graeme's once-contagious spirit, Nancy hopes to prevent others from ever having to experience the horrors of that day and its everlasting outcome.

Learn more about the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, anti-entrapment drain covers and the issues surrounding this controversial topic. To join in the ongoing and current discussion on this and related issues, please visit the Pool and Patio Forum -- we want to hear from you!

Photo Courtesy of the Baker family

Comments

January 27, 2009 at 2:21 pm
(1) Whitney Hill says:

I looked this up because I wondered why my ADULT spa at the YMCA was shut down. I guess I am going to be real politically incorrect. While being sorry for the death of this girl, I am pretty upset that the FED has shut down my spa while the YMCA waits for the FED to tell them what to do.

January 27, 2009 at 3:29 pm
(2) poolandpatio says:
January 27, 2009 at 3:34 pm
(3) poolandpatio says:

Hi Whitney:
You have reason to be upset. The VGB Act was signed into law in December of 2007 & your YMCA should have installed a compliant drain cover by December 20, 2008. I’m going to direct you to the Pool and Patio Forum where there’s an ongoing dicussion regarding the issue: http://forums.about.com/n/pfx/forum.aspx?tsn=2&nav=messages&webtag=ab-poolandpatio&tid=15
You can find background information/issues on the main page of the pool and patio site: http://poolandpatio.about.com
Sincerely,
Lisa H. Taylor
About.com Guide to Pool and Patio

February 18, 2009 at 12:24 pm
(4) STU says:

It is a terrible tragedy when someone looses a loved one. But it is even more of a tragedy when government has to get involved and tell everyone what to do and how to do it or should I say order. There will be a lot of Public Pools and facilities closing down because of lack of funds to adjust to this new law. Jobs lost and businesses closed.There is no price to put on a human life or is there……

February 18, 2009 at 7:03 pm
(5) poolandpatio says:

Hi STU,

Thanks for your comment. I’m going to direct you over to a discussion on this same issue that is going on in our Pool and Patio forum:

http://forums.about.com/n/pfx/forum.aspx?tsn=2&nav=messages&webtag=ab-poolandpatio&tid=15

February 19, 2009 at 12:37 pm
(6) Hoky says:

It is a shame that someone died, there have always been warning about young children using a spa. The only reason this has come to be a law is that it involved a Senators Daughter. Just where the H*** were her parents and why weren’t they watching her, especially where there is water?

Now, since ONE person lost their life (mainly due to lack of parental supervision) the feds have imposed a law that will affect EVERY Pool and Spa located in the US of A. But these same governmental idiots send thousands of young men and women off to get killed in a war. Sounds like more government BS to me. The dang senator probably owns (or has interests in) the company that manufactures or sells anti-entrapment covers!
Just what we need more bureaucratic controls to our already “taxing” society. How about having the Government REDUCE the number of employees like many of our companies have to do during these recessionary times?
If they add a law, one should be removed. Before long, we will need a special permit and have all the “Hazardous Waste” credentials to sit on the toilet !

February 27, 2009 at 4:47 pm
(7) poolandpatio says:

Hi Hoky:

For more background info on the Virginia Graeme Baker Act, drain covers, and related issues, I’m going to direct you to this page that has links to various articles on the topic: http://poolandpatio.about.com/od/safetypoolrules/tp/safetyact.htm
I’m also going to direct your comments to the forum, where I hope others will join in the discussion: http://forums.about.com/n/pfx/forum.aspx?tsn=1&nav=messages&webtag=ab-poolandpatio&tid=15

Thanks for your participation,
Lisa Taylor
About.com Guide to Pool and Patio

March 2, 2009 at 2:28 am
(8) Robert says:

My pool was closed this weekend when I was away for the weekend. While I understand that my association should have done their work sooner, I feel that Hot Tubs and Spa’s should be exempt from this and children should not be allowed in them. I work my ass off and all I want to do is sit in the hot tub and relax after a long days work. I think the federal government has gone a little too far on this one.

March 18, 2009 at 11:57 am
(9) Lisa says:

Any law that is put into place to save lives, is a darn good law in my book! Even if it’s one life, or a million.

Lisa
Aquatic Director of a California YMCA

March 20, 2009 at 5:04 am
(10) Rick says:

It’s hard not to agree with everyone’s sentiments on this issue. I am in the pool service industry and I currently eat, drink, and sleep this act. I have to tell you, when I first learned of the act (which was about 6 months before the compliance deadline – the government did a very poor job of getting the word out, and this is what I do for a living!), I was appalled. I thought – you have to be kidding me – for 9 deaths in 7 years, we are going to effectively shut down the commercial pool industry? I had more than a passing reason for concern, this is my job. I thought, there have to be more kids hit by school busses than that! What are we doing about them?

However, after purchasing the code, studying it, researching it, and finally beginning to assess my customers compliance, I learned something very disconcerting. THESE DEATHS AND INJURIES ARE EASILY PREVENTABLE. Stopping a bus is not so easy to do.

There are many technical issues in this code that go far beyond replacing drain covers, and for a very good reason.

If you have a small body of water, the bodies/water ratio is much higher than it is in a swimming pool. Where children are involved, they think they are in a swimming pool. ENTRAPMENT is only ONE of FIVE issues that this act deals with. Some of the others are almost too grotesque to mention, but I’m sure you can use your imaginations. Others include hair entanglement, physical entrapment such as fingers, knuckles and jewelry getting snagged on the drain cover. These are all recorded reasons for deaths or very permanent injuries.

They say if you knew what went on in a restaurant’s kitchen, you would never eat there again.

Let me assure you: if you knew what went on with many hotel hot tubs, you would not enter the same room they are in. Many owners care only about selling rooms, view their “aquatic facilities” as a burden (because they cannot generate money from them and the upkeep is costly), and will run their pools and spas with broken and even missing drain covers (and I wont even get into the lack of sanitization). In Pennsylvania, there is a requirement that the water in a hot tub be recirculated an equivalent of every 30 minutes. That is to say, if the hot tub holds 1500 gallons, that 1500 gallons has to move through the pump and filter every 30 minutes, requiring a flow rate of 50 gallons per minute, usually through a 2″ pipe. The maximum allowable flow for a 2″ pipe is 59 gpm. Typically, builders oversize the pumps so that they will have at least the required capacity, and then partially close valves to restrict the flow.

However, when the builder is gone, the maintenance is left to someone who usually has 47 other responsibilities, and when the valve is opened again, and the pump is moving 100 gallons per minute through a 2″ pipe in a spa with one drain, it does not matter if you are a child or an adult, water is flowing at 10 feet per second through that pipe (take a minute to think about that). If you slip off your seat, or have long hair, or God forbid do some of the crazy acts that people do in public hot tubs when no one is around, the potential for evisceration and entrapment is VERY HIGH.

If anything, pools should be exempted and spas should be closed until compliant. You have higher flow rates with pools, but larger plumbing, and many times multiple drains and skimmers tied together. There is far less risk in a pool.

I agree 100% that any parent who leaves their child unattended in a body of water is irresponsible, even if no pump is running. But in Virginia’s case, her mother was not ABLE to break her free from the drain and had to witness her daughter’s death. If you can walk yourself through the steps that woman had to take, and put yourself in her shoes, I have a hard time believing anybody wouldn’t be blazing the same path for legislation.

What to the Baker’s have to gain? Their child/grandchild is gone forever. They could be sitting at home grieving her loss forever, instead they took the high road and used thier influence to do something about it. No, it will not bring Virginia back, but I consider it highly unselfish and responsible that they are now concerned with making sure it never happens again. They are worried about YOUR child!

If a death is preventable, in fact rather easily preventable, and the steps are not taken to prevent it, it is more than a tragedy. And if anyone is so desensitized by watching the news every night, just remember the horror you felt on 9/11. Realize that this woman endured more than that – she had to watch her daughter’s death – and she’s alive to mourn her precious little girl forever.

My position has changed 100% on this law. It is an easy fix…and the reason the government HAS to get involved is not because they have any interest vested in the manufacture of compliant equipment, trust me they do not…it’s because by and large, the owners of these facilities could CARE LESS about you and your children. And for every one that does care, probably 90% of them ( especially in the hospitality industry) have no idea whether they are operating under an unsafe condition or not.

I deal with these owners every day. There are good people – but there are lots of evil people. Facing a fine of millions of dollars is the only thing that will make them care.

And for the record, I am a business owner and a conservative, and have been my whole life. I am not for bigger government, or more taxes, but I promise you, this law has every intention rooted in the right place.

If you have to miss a dip in the hot tub because the rest of us care about saving another little girls life, tough crap. If you can look at that picture and truly feel no sense of responsibility for human life, then maybe you SHOULD get to use the hot tub without any safety measures put in place.

Please think about it.

March 22, 2009 at 12:57 am
(11) Tena says:

Rick, Thank you for your intelligent and thoughtful comment. You are right on the money. A few years ago, I witnessed the near death of a three year old who slipped off of her mother’s lap in a hot tub of a well known resort. Her foot became trapped in a broken drain cover. Fortunately, the cutoff switch was rapidly activated by an employee who just happened to be nearby when the child’s mother started screaming. It was obvious that the drain cover had been broken for quite some time. While legislation may not ensure that all spa owners actually do the right thing, maybe it will prevent tragedies such as this one where the law is actually followed and enforced.

March 25, 2009 at 7:19 pm
(12) Ilana says:

For everyone who thinks this law is overdoing it, let me add that most, if not all of our environmental, health and safety laws were developed because someone was killed or seriously injured doing what was not then illegal. The laws are to enforce the “life” part of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.

Things that we as humans produce must be built and used in the safest way possible so as to reduce potential hazards, while still allowing us to have fun. This sounds to me like the feds are stepping up to say the technology was unsafe- let’s move on to safer ways in the future!

April 5, 2009 at 3:27 am
(13) poolandpatio says:

This brings to mind the recent tragedy involving Natasha Richardson and the possibility of establishing a helmet law for skiers: http://sportsmedicine.about.com/b/2009/03/17/natasha-richardson-suffers-head-injury-while-skiing.htm
The impetus for most safety-related laws: the occurence of several preventable accidents or fatalities. It’s too bad that so many products aren’t thoroughly tested for safety, or that rules and laws aren’t stringently enforced for many sports activities.

May 11, 2009 at 11:05 am
(14) Matt May says:

This happened in a backyard not at a public facility. Do home owners have to comply? Where does this happen most often a public facility or a backyard where kids are left unsupervised?

May 21, 2009 at 12:45 pm
(15) Amber says:

I have to say I am rather disgusted at the number of comments of people that are so put out by temporary closings of spas/pools/etc. when we are talking about the lives of little children. Come on people! These drains have been known to DISEMBOWEL children and all you can do is gripe that you want to soak in your hot tub whenever it suits you? Sick.

May 21, 2009 at 5:08 pm
(16) Doug says:

women legislators will ensure that this is only the beginning. Yes, helmets for bikers, skiers, how about walkers? I think that the Federal Govt needs to protect all Americans from all possible dangers. It should be a law that you are not allowed to leave your bed!

May 22, 2009 at 1:20 am
(17) Peter says:

Here is what the law will do:

*Enhance the safety of public and private pools and spas
*Encourage the use of layers of protection
*Reduce child drownings in pools and spas (295 each year involving children younger than 5)
*Reduce the number of suction entrapment incidents, injuries and deaths
*Educate the public on the importance of constant supervision of children in and around water

Looks like the Senator forgot one important rule: PARENTS SHOULD BE REQUIRED TO SUPERVISE THEIR CHILDREN WHEN THEY IN OR NEAR A POOL OR SPA!

Hey Senator, if you were watching your child, she never would have died! Stop blaming others for your stupid mistake! Children are too young to be in a spa, and all public and HOA pools/spas have signs that say NO CHILDREN ALLOWED IN SPA! Next time, sit your ass in the backyard and watch your kids!

May 22, 2009 at 1:25 am
(18) Peter says:

Amber said:

“These drains have been known to DISEMBOWEL children”

Where is your evidence Amber? First, that has NEVER happened, and second, it would only be possible if you forced the child underwater to make them sit on the drain! Get over yourself. This child died because the parents were too lazy to supervise her by the pool. Spas don’t kill children, irresponsible parents kill their children.

May 22, 2009 at 1:49 pm
(19) Bastet11 says:

Thank you Rick, very well informed comment.
And I agree..to those that are slightly “inconvenienced” because they can’t use a hot tub for a few days, you need a reality check. If that was your own child that was lost, you would be singing an entirely different story. Have a heart, for godssakes.

May 22, 2009 at 1:51 pm
(20) Cornycollins says:

Um, Peter..there have been plenty of cases of disembowelment of children.

http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1T4RNWE_en&q=disemboweled+by+pool+drain

Look at any of those stories.

August 23, 2009 at 8:06 am
(21) Sarah S. says:

My comment to Whitney Hill…and every other ignorant individual that is complaining or moaning over the new laws…I am sure your feelings would be different if it was your child’s face, looking at you from under the water when you couldn’t save them. I don’t even have children but after hearing about what happened to that little girl, what she went through and the terror of it all, I am actually disgusted that some of you are frustrated about the local YMCA having to shut its doors temporarily for compliance or the financial aspect of having to change your existing pool or spa – you are the people that spend your life too caught up in your own affairs. Selfish…

September 3, 2009 at 4:23 pm
(22) CINDY says:

THERE HAVE AKSO BEEN CASES OF ADULTS BEING STUCK TO THE DRAINS, NOT JUST CHILDREN. DRAINS CAN CAUSE UP TO 300 PSI, THEY ARE NOT SAFE AND IF THERE IS SOMETHING WE CAN DO TO IMPROVE IT WHY NOT! THINK OF IT AS “GOING GREEN” WITH POOLS. AND THE LAW IS MOSTLY FOR PUBLIC POOLS, REALLY NOW WOULD YOU WANT YOURSELF OR YOUR CHILD TO WITNESS SOMEONE BEING TRAPPED. THERE ARE MANY “UPDATES” TO OTHER THINGS IN OUR WORLD THAT ARE MORE UNNESSARY THAN THIS ONE.

September 6, 2009 at 8:58 pm
(23) Steve says:

Peter has certainly proved that he too is clueless on the issue. A simple internet search turned up plenty of cases of children being disembowled. Yet he was quick to say it NEVER happened. That is the problem, too many people who don’t even have kids trying to decide what is needed and what is not. Like the comment that these new requirements should only be for pools and not hot tubs and they should simply not allow kids in Hot Tubs. Kids are not supposed to play in the street, play with matches, etc but the fact is they do, accidents happen. Simply saying “don’t do that” does not work. These new changes will save lives and will be a second layer of defense for when an adult may not be watching. The people who are against these devices either don’t have children or don’t care about them.

September 17, 2009 at 4:45 pm
(24) Robert says:

Every commercial pool should be up to speed about this law. Too many pool don’t take this seriously enough and it will take a child drowning before they change out their drains as well.

http://www.clean-pool-and-spa.com/swimming-pool-drains.html

September 21, 2009 at 10:57 am
(25) Truth says:

This is in response to those of you who proclaim that there have “been plenty of cases of children being disemboweled”. Steve, you even arrogantly referred to a prior poster as “clueless”, yet it appears to me that YOU are are the clueless one. I say that with as much respect as you deserve for your arrogant comment. Do your little Google search again, but this time I suggest you actually READ the results. You’ll see that very, very few cases of disembowelment have occurred, even when looking at the data all the way back to 1990. This is clearly just another case of bleeding hearts who feel that government intervention is the “do all, end all” for every problem that has ever occurred, or is possible to occur, in our natural lives. I am very sorry (truly, I am) about any children who are injured or killed by getting stuck in a pool drain. But in light of the — yes — relatively FEW cases of injuries, is it really worth spending millions upon millions of dollars to retrofit all those drain covers? Think for a minute with your heads and not with your hearts. Do your own research as I did, and you’ll see that I am telling the truth. Considering our population of 320 million or so, the number of incidents is pathetically low and don’t justify this government intrusion. FYI, I have kids and would never, ever leave them unattended for even one minute in my pool. Shame on the parents who aren’t as vigilant, and shame on all of you for not calling them out on their negligence which was the greater contributing factor to their own child’s demise. Come on, folks, what is next? Do we make kids wear safety harnesses if they climb a tree? Oh, or maybe we could pass a new law requiring that kids not only wear helmets, but full body armor when they learn to ride a two-wheeler. I’m sure kids suffer more injuries from bike falls than from pool drains. And Barbie dolls!! Those tiny little blonde heads can be pulled loose and strangle some poor little girl whose mother never told her not to chew it like a wad of bubble gum….

And on and on, ad nauseum. Give me a break. I’m sick of government intervention into every aspect of my life. Land of the Free? Hardly.

September 21, 2009 at 12:21 pm
(26) Truth says:

For anyone who might think I overstated my case about the lunacy of this law, here is information from the Chicago Tribune:

“The Tribune says that the commission reported 74 cases of body entrapment, including 13 deaths, in a 2005 report that dated back to 1990.”

Some of you erroneously thought there are a lot of reported cases, but you didn’t take time to READ the the Google results. If you did, you would see that the results are actually just regurgitated reports about a handful of the same unfortunate incidents.

74 total cases in 15 years. That is a whopping 5 cases per year, in a country of our size. By contrast, there are approximately 1,000 victims of lightning strikes each year (according to data from the National Lightning Safety Institute). In other words, the probability of being struck by lightning is 200 TIMES greater than the probability of getting stuck in a pool drain. Why not therefore pass a law requiring every one of us (not just kids…) to wear lightning-protective, rubber-insulated clothing, helmets and shoes? That twisted logic is no more far-fetched than the pool drain cover law.

Of all the comments written on this thread, here is the one that receives my Truth Award for Misguided Blathering:

And the award goes to….

Drum roll……

LISA!! Aquatic Director of California YMCA who states, “Any law that is put into place to save lives, is a darn good law in my book! Even if itís one life, or a million.”

Um, Lisa. Lisa. Isn’t your welfare state the brokest of the broke? Are you guys still paying your government obligations with IOU’s? In your very state (it’s #3 in size and waaay number one in population), how many cases of pool entrapment have occurred? I don’t know the answer, but I think YOU should, before you go making some nutty proclamation as you did. Where’s the money supposed to come from, Lisa? Did you pay for all those covers with a fistful of IOU’s? I’m still laughing out loud.

By the way, this isn’t the end of this ridiculous liberal legislation which was written by Florida’s Rep Debbie Wasserman Schultz. In Florida (maybe everywhere else, too, I don’t know), commercial pools (maybe residential, too, I don’t know) must be retrofitted with special “suction release valves” of some sort by 2012 and I was told the estimated cost to be somewhere between $800 and $1000. So, if you like the original safety cover requirement, you’ll LOVE the sequel suction release requirement.

To any bleeding hearts who think I’m crude, uncaring and barbaric: flame away! But do so with fact, just as I did, and not emotional conjecture. That’s why I’m signed….

Truth

December 1, 2009 at 2:16 am
(27) Doug says:

I am a guard at a pool that has a VGB act approved drain cover in our childrens pool. In the last week 5 children have sliced their feet on this “safe” cover.

February 25, 2010 at 4:57 pm
(28) Chris says:

Laws are setup to protect us, but when the ďusĒ is a marginal percentage of the populous we have to question the law. Currently Iím an Aquatics Director. I’ve been in the Aquatics Industry for 14 years. I’ve dealt with thousands of people and worked in about a dozen pools and I’ve never seen or known anyone to have being trapped.

Because of funding issues this law has forced historically safe public pools to close. Pools that have been used to teach tens of thousands of children and have never had an entrapment issue. This has resulted in missed out swimming classes and opportunities to instruct the very same children it set out to protect.

No matter how many lifeguards or ultra safe grates you have accidents always will always happen but I believe this law hurts more people today than it will ever save in its lifetime.

March 10, 2010 at 4:55 pm
(29) RC Consulting says:

I really enjoyed this blog and my heart goes out to Virginia’s family. As a pool industry professional I will do my best to make everyone I come in contact with understand the importance of pool and spa safety. great blog.

March 17, 2010 at 11:48 am
(30) Truth says:

I haven’t looked at this forum for awhile, but wish to give a “heads up” about other, more onerous aspects of this wasteful legislation. First, the data which was apparently used by Debbie Wasserman Schultz to rocket this law through the approval process is tainted data. The data includes ALL drowning deaths, swimming pool or otherwise. In other words, the data cites xxx drowning deaths, but doesn’t specify whether the drownings occurred in a pool, a hot tub, the ocean, a lake, or the Missouri River. Great research, hey? But that’s not the worst of it. I was informed today that (at least, here in Florida where Schmutz is located) the worst of the law is yet to come. Bottom-drain, pump fed filtration systems must be retrofitted with a completely different filtration approach that includes gravity flow, collection tank, etc. This is a major, major undertaking and during this recession, will surely be a death blow for many businesses such as motels and hotels. I say this needs to be repealed before the true damage has been dealt. Please, folks, wake up. Morons are ruling our lives and will surely be the ruination of our great country. Forget political parties, forget some of the silly ideologies that seem to constantly divide us – we need to elect intelligent, fiscally responsible people to replace this crop of loonies. That is the….
Truth

March 30, 2010 at 3:37 am
(31) Bill says:

WOW! Amazing such brash and idiotic comments. When I was informed about this issue with drain covers it took me all of 20 minutes to drive to the store spend sixteen dollars for two covers and less 5 minutes to install both of them. And I installed them with the water in the pool. Some people are so lazy that heaven forbid their privileged lives be interrupted for a few minutes to prevent the unnecessary death of a child or anyone for that matter.

April 7, 2010 at 1:40 pm
(32) Rob says:

Aquatics International Magazine just released a great article “Running on Empty”. Everyone should read it. There is a lot that goes into writing legislation and making laws, and in regards to this forum, forming an opinion. In this case common sense wasn’t one of the things that went in. 85% of all drownings occur outside of public pools, most of them because people canít swim very well. Some of the pools found they had to pay a lot more than the 65$ for drain covers initially predicted by CPSC. For the City of Seattle the price tag to get all of their pools to comply was around $400,000! These pools are being shut down due to the horrible planning and strategy that went into this Act. These are the very pools that teach kids how to swim.
Also nothing has changed for the owners of private spas in their back yard, precisely where Graeme died. All of the time, effort, and money spent to comply with the standards set forth could, and most likely will, in the long run cause more drowning because of the loss of swim lessons being offered. If the concern was for saving many lives, why wasnít an ordinance on swim instruction in the bill? How sad.
I am an Aquatic Supervisor, and I donít like this Act, even though I appreciate the thought of making pools and spas safer. Not all the people in charge of these municipal pools are lazy; however, the people who enacted this safety bill were (Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz to name one). It is a shame how irresponsible the VGB Act turned out to be.

April 19, 2010 at 9:33 pm
(33) Jim McDaniels says:

Well the answer is obvious and those of you who are saying this law is a bad thing need to review your starting point for that belief Because common sense and reality is needed here and was right in my neighborhood:

I own a 1999 model hot tub I paid $2,000 for from Sam’s club. The brand is Weslo Daybreak 515 model. I upgraded the motor to 2 hp when the 1 1/2 went out since I had it wired 220v for the optional increased performance.
The tub has 3 places the water is sucked into the pump motor: the skimmer box, and 2 separate intake covers at the bottom. The intake covers are cheap plastic but instead of being flush to the side surface, they protrude out about an inch so they can have holes on the sides as well at their front surface. When you get into the tub with the pump on hi, you can try to block these cheap bottom covers with both hands or body but not completely because of the large odd hole surface. Also you can not block these and the skimmer box at the same time because they are too far away from each other. The result? The suction is not overwhelming and relatively very safe and the motor doesn’t surge. BRAVO for this design! It follows the simple rules of this new safety law. All they had to do is put in a little more piping and change the shape of the grates.

Now I have a friend who has a membership to the YMCA here in Colorado Springs CO and I go as his guest about 5 years ago. They have or had (I haven’t been back because I belong to 24 hr fitness) an old build into the room hot tub I suspect is from the 1970 or 1980′s. There is only one square flat intake grate on the floor. With the motor running, I put both my feet over it covering it completely for fun and Oh MY the motor surges and the suction is Extreme and it feels like the skin of my feet may be peeling off and is tough to pull my feet off, it’s not even possible to remove both feet at once and I am 44 yo and work out!

You know, I am serious on this, you couldn’t pay me $20,000 dollars to block that grate by sitting on it because I’m very afraid justly that it would suck my intestines right out and I’d bleed to death right there, or drowned because I was trapped at the bottom sitting down helpless.
I can’t imagine what it would do to a little boy or girl’s body parts….it’s too horrible.
Well I don’t have to imagine, because there’s already been victims as you’ve read and that’s just in the USA, not counting the hundred other Countries. This reasonable law has set the standard for the rest of the world to follow.

Now I’m against laws that think and try to keep us living forever by trying to remove every danger out there and making our lives very controlled by others.
However this law is just a common sense and easy and cheap to follow guide for manufacturers to follow.

You would think the manufacturers would have created and followed something like this on their own, but they never did and didn’t. You can think all you want, but reality is they didn’t, not even in an expensive built in tub at the YMCA.
If you want to see what the mind set those people are like at those companies that are responsible for the manufacturers not thinking this common sense on their own, or said no when someone else at the company thought of it, just read the comments from the people who are against this law above and below. How they can live with themselves is simple, they do not respect others as equal to themselves. They are not living in reality. Reality will always win eventually.
I’ve been told living a lie can give you health problems, so I suggest you review your opinion and align it with reality.

Thank-you for your time
Jim

April 23, 2010 at 5:20 pm
(34) Truth says:

Bill, Jim:

You guys are amazing with your holier-than-thou attitudes, implying that others like me are less sensitive or less caring than you. What a couple of arrogant know-nothings. Didn’t you read any of the real data presented by me and others? This whole thing is another instance of Big Brother government trying to turn us into a nanny state. Period. The number of pool tragedies involving the outflow system is not small — it is downright miniscule. Didn’t you read Doug’s comment above, indicating five child injuries caused by the very equipment that’s designed to protect them? Didn’t you read Rob’s meaningful excerpts from Aquatics International Magazine? Didn’t you read my actual data about the teeny national number of such accidents? Don’t you understand that these chintzy pool drain covers are only the FIRST STAGE of this law and the next phase is the big axe that’s yet to fall? For some pools, the price tag will be in the $50K price range. Have you even bothered to read the law, as I did? Come on, guys. Don’t come to a gunfight armed with a slingshot, or else guys like me will only laugh at you. I’m laughing right now, as my fingers type this response. You two sound like Cheech and Chong.

This is just another example of useless, ill-informed liberal legislation written by someone who thinks she is smarter than the rest of us, when SHE is the one who is misinformed and misguided. And smack in the middle of a deep recession, besides. That just takes the cake.

BILL: since you think I am brash and idiotic, please allow me to educate you. Then if you wish to apologize for your…ahem….misstatements, I’ll consider you worthy to be called a man and not some mindless robot. I’ll never call you Cheech again, I promise. What you did – installing your own Chinese-made pool drain cover – would be illegal in my state. How do you like that, Cheech? In Florida, the drain covers must be installed by a licensed contractor. That’s the law. If you paid only $16 per cover, they must be real beauties. Mine cost approx $150, not counting the contractor’s labor to install. Where do you live, Cheech? Are you sure you didn’t break the law by installing the covers yourself? If your state requires periodic inspections, better have the contractor’s receipt ready for the inspector to review.

JIM: If you thought you would hurt my feelings by playing to sympathy, you’d be wrong. Why? Because your premise is wrong, Chong. This is a virtually nonexistent problem that government has mandated must be fixed. Per real data, not by phony sympathy and not by conjecture, the number of incidents does not justify government intervention, or anyone else’s intervention for that matter. By the way, since you are so safety-conscious, I’m dying to know: why did you replace the OEM 1.5 hp motor with a much more powerful 2 hp? That is inherently more dangerous than the less powerful OEM motor. Shame, shame on you, Chong. It’s hard for me to take you very seriously when you do dangerous things that conflict with your own silly argument. And Father Chong, may I ask when your next sermon is scheduled?

To anyone else who may stumble into this board, please — do your own research!! Don’t be guilt-ridden by sympathy or embarrassment that uninformed boobs like Bill and Jim — hereby ridiculed as Cheech and Chong — are trying to lay on you. Just do your own research. Check the data and don’t rely on anecdotal crap being slung out there by Cheech, Chong, or all the other standup comedians in our nation’s capital. In my eyes, guys like that have apparently already sat on one of those now-illegal pool covers and it didn’t only suck out their intestines, but sucked out their brains as well. Above all else, this law was designed to protect children, correct? Well, I have three kids of my own whom I dearly love. They are all getting old enough to fend for themselves, but when they were young – I would have been devastated if any one of them were to have suffered a pool tragedy such as this law purports to avoid. But — look out, here comes the big “but” — such a tragedy would have been of my own making and not the pool operator, nor the pool eqpt manufacturer, nor any governmental agency. It would have been my fault for not doing my parental duty of properly caring for my own children. Sorry, but I neither need, nor want, government to take over for me. And that’s the…..

Truth

May 20, 2010 at 12:29 pm
(35) Sonja says:

Tragically, this child was left alone. This is not to say that her hair would not have gotten caught had she been supervised, but perhaps the outcome would have been different. While I admire this mother’s mission to promote safety, I do not admire the family’s methods, (litigation). Also, should not a campaign for closer supervision of children have been at least as great a part of this mission? Look at these statistics:

ēDue to circulation entrapment during the period of 1999-2007, six deaths and 28 injuries occurred in pools; three deaths and 22 injuries took place in hot tubs and spas; and 13 injuries happened in whirlpools

Certainly, far, far more deaths occur simply as the result of lack of supervision, (i.e. accidental drowning). This case was a result of both and yet the entire country must pay for it, (figuratively and literally). I know it must bring her parents some peace, but I’m afraid it must also bring some others a false sense of security, with is truly dangerous.

May 26, 2010 at 11:13 am
(36) Truth says:

Sonja,
Yours is a very reasoned and articulate commentary. Great post, and you were able to express yourself without the anger I feel about this law. Too many people expect/encourage government to intervene in every minute aspect of their lives. In my view as a free and independent thinker, though, I resent government’s increasing encroachment into everything we do. I don’t want more government tell me how I should think, what I should say, or what I should eat. I want LESS government and I do mean less on an order of magnitude scale. People need to be responsible for their own lives, their own actions, and outcomes of those actions. That precious little girl – Virginia Graeme Baker – would be alive today if her mother had only been as vigilant as any good parent should be. She (i.e., the mother) should have dealt with her own negligence, resultant guilt, and grief without literally turning this into a federal case.

July 12, 2010 at 12:12 pm
(37) CP says:

Our YMCA just finished their pool retrofits late last year. For all the money we pay for our membership, the facilities should be as safe as possible as soon as possible.

August 24, 2010 at 12:32 pm
(38) Blondie says:

We have four aquatic centers, nine swimming pools, and 37 wading pools. All are currently VGB compliant. Twelve are reverse flow, two have field fabricated grates that comply with ASME A112.19.8, and the remainder have new VGB covers at a cost of almost $75,000. Luckily all pools are gravity drain to the recirculation system. We have never had an instance of any sort of entrapment. The risk of suction entrapment is similar to being sucked onto your bathtub drain.

In 30 of our wading pools we replaced firmly attached sturdy bronze covers with plastic VGB covers that create a tripping hazard. We have had three reported toe scrapes/stubs related to the new covers, and I fear many minor unreported injuries.

Now I am hearing that reverse flow pools (pools that have a main drain that is not connected to the recirculation system and is used only to drain the pool at the end of the season) will need VGB compliant drain covers.

I have researched this topic extensively and have yet to find a single instance of entrapment (any of the five types) on a pool with a gravity system. Most accidents occurred in pools or hot tubs/spas with pump suction directly applied to the pipe from the pool. It also looks as though many of the accidents occurred when the cover was missing or damaged.

It seems to me that while the legislation may prevent some deaths or injuries related to entrapment, it may be too far reaching to include recirculation systems that never presented a danger in the first place.

I am looking for some thoughtful and fact filled replies, especially examples of entrapment in gravity pools.

September 15, 2010 at 7:55 pm
(39) Liar says:

Truth – it’s amusing that you’re calling people out for being arrogant with a handle as arrogant as yours. Though I have to admit it isn’t uncommon for folks on your end of the political spectrum to be oblivious to their own ridiculousness.

Also: try a basic civics class. I’ll be happy to point out where you’re screwing up if you’re still reading this comment thread.

September 17, 2010 at 12:14 am
(40) Truth says:

Dear Mr/Ms Liar,

I regret to inform you that “handle” sounds like a really outdated term. Isn’t that an expression that was used back in the days of CB radio? 10-4, good buddy.

Look, you can attack me personally with your halfwitted little attempts to insult, but that won’t change the fact that this law is still a huge pile of doggie excrement. Much ado about nothing. If you support such wasteful legislation, then you should be embarrassed by your own ignorance about the subject. Heck, I’m embarrassed on your behalf.

By the way, how’s that Hope and Change workin’ out for you? Did you learn about it in your Civics class? And did they teach you to use your fingers for counting broken promises? Keep voting for big spenders and pretty soon we’ll all just be another statistic on some bureaucrat’s desk.

Roger. Over and out.

November 1, 2010 at 11:38 am
(41) Pool tech says:

There is one fact that has been overlooked
The whole tragedy happened in a private pool
The pool owners that are effected are public pool owners not private, because you private pools do not have a county pool inspector coming to your house to see if your pool is compliant.

Plus older pool plumbing does not isolate just the main drain.
They work off a 80-20 system, 80% of the suction comes from the pool skimmer and 20% comes from the main drain, but here is the kicker, the suction port, main drain port and skimmer inlet port, are all in the same hole.
The hole for the skimmer is 8″ diameter and the main drain suction line is a inch and a half hole. So if a human body was to lay on the main drain cover, there would not be enough suction to keep it there or for that matter set off anti-suction devices. So the sensativity of the anti-entrapment would be set so high that a kid cannon balling into the pool would set it off and the pump motor would shut off.
My thought is that pool plumbing and pump motor sizes should have been factored in on this law.
Plus that fact that it was started over something that happened in a private residentual pool, not a public pool, should have been factored in.
Meaning they should have geared it toward new pool construction
I may be wrong or right but that is how I feel about this.
I am not an public pool owner just a maintenance man having to deal with the compliance of this law.

November 23, 2010 at 11:03 pm
(42) Titus says:

To whom it may concern. I’ve been building pools, commercial and residential, for over 20 yrs. Been involved in many projects, start to finished. Started out as and in house employee and now I’m the contractor. The only stories that have made the news are either accidental drownings or head injuries, I even heard one where this fella put his private into the Vac line at the local Holiday Inn and it got stuck. The hotel had to call 911 and the firemen had to jack hammer him free.

November 23, 2010 at 11:05 pm
(43) Titus says:

The comment about the percentage of flow that is utilized in a basic pool, not including the spa if it is in operation by it self, is correct. The pool main drain valve is open 5 to 20 percent, if at all. Most of the time the main drain is shut off. The spa ; however, is a different story. If the spa main drain valve has been turned to isolate the spa from the pool, which is the only way to logically heat the spa, or in the pool/spa combo’s that I build—– run the jets while the pool pump is putting the heated water into the spa, (that would be a two pump system). A spa, if it is built right, has main drains.

November 23, 2010 at 11:07 pm
(44) Titus says:

The laws that have been implemented are good one’s. I’ve often thought through out the years, is this going to be the pool that someone will get hurt in. (((If you are a pool contractor and you have had this happen I feel for you))). The comments about human error are correct. I have wondered what would possess a person to dive in a in the shallow end of a pool or put their private in the vacuum line or sit down on the main drain while the pump was running.

October 4, 2011 at 9:22 am
(45) pool operator says:

I recieved a pool closure order yesterday. We have have changed our drain covers because of a broken back in july 2011. We replaced all four at that time because the only ones you can buy are coded compliant. After draining our pool, which has to be done with an external trash pump because our pool is gravity drain. We decided to replace all four covers. The problem is we didn’t file for a permit with our state to do this and we are fighting this now. They are 3 months behind in issueing permits we only operate for 10 weeks. We are a non- profit camp and these costs our high. A suction alarm system can cost $700,00. Which we don’t need because of the way our system is. Our regional office approved the grates Now the state has issued us a closed order and filed a class action suit againest us. We have been listed in the news paper as being non compliant.

December 31, 2012 at 1:16 pm
(46) Matt says:

I have worked in the aquatic industry for years now, in almost every position from lifeguard to maintanence to management.

Truth,
This law is set forth towards BOTH private and public facilities. Not just public. Private pools still have to comply, there just isnt enough inspectors to go through every single backyard inspecting. As far as the public facilaties are concerned thats the price you oay for operating a facility, its gonna be regulated and inspected. And yes, there are not many documented cases of entrapment however of the few it is not soley due to parent negligence. You cant tell me that in every single case a guardian wasnt present. And in the baker case, even if the mother was standing right next to the spa if virginia slipped even for a second and became entraped, there was no way her mother could have pulled her off of that drain. But you clearly didnt read the whole story because it took two other adult males to rip her off the bottom with such a struggle to do it that the drain cover was ripped from the floor of the spa and broken.
So YES the mothet should have been there keeping an eye on her, but NO it is not solely her fault her daughter died.
And yes in some states the law is more strict then others, but its still not that expensive. I recently worked at a resort and we simply drained our pools for a few days, split our single main drain into three seperate drain ports on the same line, with individual covers. Now with our single pump design there are 8 suctiin ports in the pools (including skimmers) with drastically reduced suction pressure on each.
PROBLEM SOLVED!! ( this retrofit actually improved our filtration at the same time) DOUBLE WIN!! With little cost…..

December 31, 2012 at 1:17 pm
(47) Matt says:

And as far as legislation goes, im against big government too…. but i dont hear you bitching about having to wear your seatbeat when you drive…. thats a government law there to keep you safe too…..
or maybe you want to complain about the strict FAA rules for airplane part maintenance, because its expensive to repair parts that arent broken but COULD potentially fail and cause a catastrophic crash!! These laws and rules are all there to keep EVERYONE (children and adults) safe. Id like to point you to a little video clip i like to show new guards that i train on the side. Its called ‘touchedand by a drowning’. Where a little boy was unconscious on the bottom of a public pool for several minuteshe died because the lifesaving standards at the time from the red cross didnt supply the lifeguards on duty with enough information to potentially save the boy. And this ONE death (not a senators son, or Any way related to anyone with governmental influence) sparked a very enstensive and expensive retraining of lifeguards nationwide. I dont here you whinning about that….. because it was a good idea….
Now anyone out there with a care for human life should want to do anything they can to keep others safe, whether it be kids or adults. You ask passengers in your care to wear their seatbelts…. why cant you make a few changes to your pool

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