Public Pools Must Meet New Safety Rules or Close
June 23, 2010
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Contra Costa health officials are urging public pool and spa operators to comply with a state child safety law to help prevent the tragic and hidden hazard of drain entrapments by July 1 or face closure.
State Assembly Bill 1020 passed in October 2009 and followed the federal Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act requiring public facilities have drain covers and devices that prevent a swimmer's hair or body from becoming trapped by suction created by drains. The Virginia Graeme Baker act was named for the 7-year-old granddaughter of former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker after she was trapped underwater by suction from a drain in a hot tub and drowned.
Contra Costa Health Services' Environmental Health inspectors have been working with local pools for the past year and a half to help them meet the July 1 deadline to comply with the state law, said Environmental Health Assistant Director Diana Kato.
"We can help protect children from being trapped and killed or horribly injured by pool drains. These accidents are preventable and our job is to protect the residents of Contra Costa by ensuring pool and spa operators make their facilities safe," Kato said.
Information on the new requirements was sent to pool and spa operators and Environmental Health staff conducted 11 training classes for operators. Out of Contra Costa County's approximate 1,500 pools and spas, about 150 may be out compliance though staff are still doing inspections, Kato said.
Pools with a single main drain that lack both anti-entrapment drain covers and an anti-entrapment device or system will be closed beginning July 1 until fixed. Pools found in partial compliance will have a 30-day extension to show remaining work will be finished prior to the 2011 season.
"Pools are great places to cool down during the summer," Kato said. "Swimmers shouldn't have to worry about the risk of becoming trapped at the bottom of a pool and drowning so we will close any pools putting people at risk."
For more information on pool safety in Contra Costa, visit Contra Costa Health Services website at http://cchealth.org/groups/eh/.
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- Kate Fowlie