A federal law designed to prevent accidental deaths due to pool drains is not working out as planned. Congress passed the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act in 2007 to help prevent swimmers from getting accidentally trapped by pool drains.
Just prior to Memorial Day, more than 1 million pool drain covers designed to fix the problem were recalled. This was the latest in many setbacks for the law, which was supposed to award more than $4 million in grants to states that complied with federal pool-safety codes. So far, no states have earned this distinction.
The law’s proponents argue that the Consumer Product Safety Commission should have required automatic shut-off switches on pool drains. Opponents say the industry is too vast to police, citing the high cost of inspections and the high number of residential pools and spas (about 16 million) in the country.
Unfortunately, Florida’s warm weather and high number of residential and commercial pools makes it a state with a high number of accidental drownings. According to the International Journal of Acquatic Research and Education (IJARE), more people drown in Florida each year than in any other state except California.
For every 10,000 residential pools in a county, 2.4 additional deaths can be expected over three years, accoding to the IJARE. Florida has the highest drowning rates for children age 1-4 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The drowning death rate per 10,000 poools in Duval County is 1.72.
To learn more about how to prevent accidental drowning, visit the CDC’s website.