Pools and spas require new drain covers on Saturday to protect children
Last year, Congress passed a broad new law requiring that public pools and spas be modified to prevent children from being trapped under water. The rules go into effect on December 20, 2008, and Newsday.com reports that many pools remain out of compliance. The Consumer Product Safety Commission announced this week that it will focus its enforcement efforts initially on public baby and wading pools and in-ground spas with flat drain grates and only one drain. It considers these pools to be the most dangerous. A spokeswoman noted that the federal government did not allocate any money to the CPSC to enforce the new rules.
This danger received little attention until 2002 when the 7-year-old granddaughter of former Secretary of State James Baker drowned at the bottom of a pool: efforts by adults to pry her away from the drain were unsuccessful. A national foundation suggests that 80 percent of the public pools and spas in the U.S. remain out of compliance and that the cost of compliance ranges from one to fifteen thousand dollars per pool.
A spokesman for the non-profit group SafeKids Worldwide said that his agency documents about one fatality per year resulting from pool drains; his organization has documented 33 deaths of children between 1985 and 2004. The new rules require hump-shaped drain covers that less easily trap a swimmer and an emergency shut-off system for single drain pools. A trade organization for hot tub manufacturers is seeking an exemption for hot tubs.