Hot Enough For You? Federal Law Closes Down Some Georgia Pools

It was a sweltering in Atlanta over the weekend and when the weather is this hot there’s almost nothing more relaxing than a dip in the pool. But many familiar swimming pools in Georgia and all over the country were closed down last weekend due to some serious safety concerns.

Last year a new federal law took effect that requires all public pools and hot tubs to meet a new safety standard when it comes to the suction generated by their drains. Some Metro Atlanta operators are having trouble complying. One Rockdale County public pool is closed and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources has had to close at least six pools because they simply do not have the funds to update the pool’s older drains. Apartment complexes, subdivisions, and swimming clubs are all subject to the new law, though because there is no central clearinghouse for information it is unknown how many Georgia pools are closed altogether. For some Georgians, a refreshing swim is being sacrificed for safety, at least for the near future.

Angry that your pool is closed? Read on and you may change your mind.

The “Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act” stems from a tragic incident that occurred back in 2002. Seven-year-old Virginia Baker, the granddaughter of former Secretary of State James Baker III, dove into a hot tub and was sucked under the water by a powerful drain. It took two men to break the drain’s grating and get her to the surface, but they were too late. Pool-safety lobbyists cited the Baker tragedy when promoting the new act, and in late 2007 Georgia W. Bush signed the bill into law.

Compliance with the new law will significantly increase the safety of pool drains. Operators will be required to replace typical drain covers with grates that lessen drain’s dangerous suction. Other pools may be required to make other changes, such as the expensive process of lowering sump pumps into a pool’s floor to reduce suction, a process that can cost pool operators thousands of dollars but will ultimately save lives.

Other modifications include covers that prevent long hair from getting caught in drains. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported several incidents of hair getting caught in drains and causing the bathers head to be held underwater. These new drain covers would prevent such horrific accidents in the places where they are the most likely to occur – hot tubs.

Are you concerned about pool safety in your area? Ask your pool operator if their pool is in compliance with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act. Pools with the proper grated drain cover will bear a seal of approval bearing witness that they meet the new standards.

Is your pool still open? Stay safe this summer with these water safety tips for the whole family.

Georgians, have you noticed any closed swimming pools in your area? Let other readers know in the comments.