The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (VGB or P&SS Act) was named after a 7 year old girl who lost her life to drowning from entrapment in a spa drain. Her mother, Mrs. Nancy Baker was unable to free her from the main drain. It took 2 men to pull so hard as to break the main drain cover to free the young girl. By then, it was already too late. Mrs. Nancy Baker and her family took to action to create a law to prevent this from happening to other young children by requiring safety measures to be taken in pools that required it. In the past 6 years, who knows how many lives this has saved.
This law requires all public or commercial pools to adhere to the safety laws as well as all main drain covers that will be made or sold in the United States to comply with certain safety standards. The law states that public pool and spa owners or operators need to be VGB compliant. This means that all suction outlets and main drain covers need to be VGB compliant. If the pool only has a single main drain that isn’t an unblockable suction outlet then the pool needs a secondary anti-entrapment system or device.
VGB compliant main drain covers have been in production since 2008. Now, every main drain cover that is to be manufactured or sold in the United States needs to meet the safety standards. While each main drain cover adheres to the VGB standard, each one can be different. The main drain covers only last a finite amount of time. For example, the 10” Aquastars I like to put in have a 5 year life span. That means to remain VGB compliant the main drain must be replaced every 5 years. This is due to erosion and wear and tear from being in the sun and a chlorinated pool. It is a small cost to install a VGB compliant main drain cover and it can save lives and reduce your liability in both public and residential pools.
Public Pools or Spas with a single main drain that isn’t an unblockable main drain are required to have a secondary device or system to prevent entrapment and evisceration. This secondary device or system can be any of the following.
- eliminating the drain or reversing the flow
- adding a second, properly spaced outlet
- installing an SVRS (safety vacuum release system)
- installing an automatic pump shut-off system
- installing a suction limiting vent system
- adding a gravity drainage system
In short, all public or commercial pools need to have a VGB compliant main drain cover and (sometimes) a secondary safety device or system. But that shouldn’t stop any residential customers from upgrading their system to one that can isn’t so dangerous. Follow the link below to find out more information about pool safety and the Virginia Graeme Baker Act.