A new law requiring anti-drowning drain covers to be installed at public swimming pools and hot tubs should be enforced. The sweeping law designed to prevent drain suction from trapping children under water was passed by Congress after a long, tough fight. The rules apply to pools and spas used by the public, including municipal pools and those at hotels, private clubs, apartment buildings and community centers. The improved drain systems were outlined in legislation passed by Congress a year ago. Pool and spa operators had a year to comply. The deadline for installing the new equipment has now come and the law must be enforced.
Nancy Nord, acting chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, says the agency will focus initially on public baby pools and wading pools, as well as in-ground spas that have flat drain grates on the bottom and just one drain system. Unfortunately, Congress did not give the CPSC the $7 million needed to enforce the law. As a result, the federal government expects states to take on much of the enforcement responsibility.
As you will recall from prior issues, the safety issue received heightened attention after the seven-year-old granddaughter of former Secretary of State James A. Baker was sucked onto a spa drain in 2002. She drowned despite efforts to pry her off. The legislation bans the manufacture, sale or distribution of drain covers that don’t meet anti-entrapment safety standards. New models use a hump-shaped drain cover rather than the flat style that more easily attains suction with a child’s body. Pools with just one drain also are required to install a second drain system, or external shut-off.
Alan Korn, public policy director of the Washington-based nonprofit group Safe Kids Worldwide, said the vast majority of American swimmers don’t realize that the bottom of pools and spas and wading pools are a hidden hazard, especially to children. He said one person dies because of pool or spa drain suction in a typical year. His agency cited 33 deaths of children under age 14 between 1985 and 2004. The new drain-cover rule also applies to new portable hot tubs sold for backyard use by consumers. The rules to do not apply to existing hot tubs. In my opinion this new law must be enforced.
Source: Associated Press
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