WASHINGTON, D.C. – (May 24, 2017) –  Today the United States Senate is holding a hearing to recognize and celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act (the “VGB Act”). The VGB Act is the first federal legislation passed by Congress that addresses pool and spa safety. Since its passage, there has not been a single death from entrapment in the United States in a public pool. The VGB Act was signed into law by President George Bush on December 19, 2007, and became effective on December 19, 2008.

The VGB Act was named after Virginia Graeme Baker who died at 7-years-old after becoming entrapped on a spa drain due to its powerful suction force, resulting in her drowning. Graeme’s mother, Nancy Baker, and her grandfather, former Secretary of State James Baker, along with Abbey’s Hope Charitable Foundation and many others, worked for several years to help move the law through Congress and eventually to the President’s desk for signature. 

The VGB Act was also passed in direct response to the tragic death of Abbey Taylor, who would’ve turned 16-years-old today, but died from an evisceration at a public pool due to a poorly maintained and therefore unsafe drain. Senator Klobuchar worked intimately with the Taylor family to improve and pass this critical piece of legislation.

“The VGB Act is a perfect example of government working the way it is supposed to work,” said Scott Taylor, co-founder of Abbey’s Hope. “The law was bi-partisan, effective and we thank those who supported it for honoring our daughter’s memory.”

“One of my proudest moments in the Senate was when I called Scott Taylor to tell him that we passed the pool safety bill in his daughter Abbey’s honor and that the President would sign it into law,” said Sen. Klobuchar. “Since then, not a single child has died from drain entrapment in a public pool. Scott and Katey Taylor have had such a positive spirit throughout their tough times – and thanks to their steadfastness, kids across the country are safer."

The VGB Act’s purpose is to prevent both entrapment and eviscerations by swimming pool and spa drains in addition to traditional forms of drownings.  The VGB Act is enforced by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission.  The law has several requirements that are meant to change the way public pools and spas are built and maintained in the United States:

  • All public pool and spa drain covers manufactured, distributed, entered into commerce or sold in the marketplace on or after December 19, 2008 must meet a federal consumer product safety standard.  Drain covers that meet this federal standard are designed and tested in order to help prevent entrapments from happening.  It is illegal to sell non-compliant drains.
  • All public pools and spas must be equipped with a VGB compliant anti-entrapment drain cover and include other safety features to prevent entrapment.
  • The act also authorized and funded a drowning and entrapment prevention education effort which ultimately became the Consumer Product Safety Commission Pool Safely Campaign. Pool Safely is a national recognized education campaign that works with partners around the country, including Abbey’s Hope, to reduce drownings and entrapments in pools and spas.

 

Abbey’s Hope Charitable Foundation thanks both Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) for holding this hearing and for their anticipated leadership going forward.

About Abbey’s Hope:

Abbey’s Hope Charitable Foundation is a Minnesota nonprofit organization named after Abbey Taylor, the Edina, Minn., 6-year-old who died in 2008 as a result of injuries sustained by an improperly maintained pool drain cover.

The Foundation’s goal is to:

  • Promote awareness of and education related to child safety issues, including educating pool owners, operators, inspectors, and the general public about the dangers of pool entrapment, evisceration and drowning and the need for physical inspections of pool equipment.
  • Work with the pool and spa industry to improve the design of its products, packaging and warning labels, and assist in the development of product safety standards related to such products.
  • Identify and provide support and assistance to organizations and programs that help educate parents, children, and pool and spa manufacturers about the prevention of entrapment and traditional forms of drowning. 

Find out more about Abbey’s Hope at http://www.abbeyshope.org/

The Dragonfly Story

Excerpted from the eulogy at Abbey Taylor's Celebration of Life Service

Below the surface of a quiet pond lived a colony of water bugs. They were happy, living far from the sun. But they noticed that occasionally, a member of their colony would climb up a lily stalk and disappear from sight, never to return. Where do you suppose she went? wondered a water bug.

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Pool Safety Tips

  • Use the Water Watchdog System to make sure children are always closely supervised in the pool area.

  • Remind kids to stay away from pool and hot tub drains.

  • Never dive into water less than 9 feet deep.

  • Keep gates to the pool area latched.


More water safety tips