Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act Summary

The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (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. The drains suction was so powerful that it took two adult males to free her from the drain. Unfortunately, she was pulled off the dangerous drain too late. She drowned as a result of the entrapment.  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’s purpose is to prevent both entrapment and eviscerations by swimming pool and spa drains and traditional forms of drowning in swimming pools and spas. 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:

  1. 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 named ASME/ANSI A112.19.8-2007.  Drain covers that meet this federal standard are designed and tested in order to help prevent entrapments from happening;
  2. All public pools and spas must be equipped with a VGB compliant anti-entrapment drain cover;
  3. Pools and spas operating off a single main drain (i.e., pools and spas with one drain), other than an unblockable drain, must also add one or more of the following additional back-up options so that protection is provided in the event the anti-entrapment drain cover comes off:
    • a safety vacuum release system, commonly referred to as a SVRS, or;
    • a suction-limiting vent system, or;
    • a gravity drainage system, or;
    • an automatic pump shut-off system, or;
    • disable the drain all together; or
    • any other system determined by the CPSC to be equally effective as the devices or methods listed above. 

In other words, under the VGB Act, each public pool or spa with a single main drain, other than an unblockable drain, must be equipped with a one of the listed back-up secondary devices or methods.  An “unblockable drain” is defined as a drain of any size and shape that a human body cannot sufficiently block to create a suction entrapment hazard (i.e., large drains that can’t be easily covered by a human body).

The VGB Act defines the term “public pool and spa” as a swimming pool or spa that is:

  1. open to the public generally, whether for a fee or free of charge;
  2. open exclusively to:
    • members of an organization and their guests;
    • residents of a multi-unit apartment building, apartment complex or other multi-family residential area;
    • patrons of a hotel or other public accommodations facility; or
  3. operated by the Federal Government for benefit of members of the Armed Forces or their dependants or employees of any department or agency and their dependents.

**The law does not cover private residence pools and spas (i.e., pools and spas found in back yards). Abbey’s Hope, however, recommends that these private venue pools and spas also follow the requirements of the VGB Act. Entrapments and eviscerations can and have happened in private swimming and bathing facilities also.**

Read the Act

Read the text or download the text of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act.
Learn More

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.

Read More

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