As of December 19, 2008, all public pools and spas, including those located in apartment communities, must be equipped with anti-entrapment devices as a result of a provision included in the energy bill (P.L. 110-140) enacted in December 2007.
The legislation is designed to reduce the 260 pool and spa drownings each year involving children younger than five and was the result of an intense lobbying effort by the family of the seven-year old granddaughter of former Secretary of State James Baker, who died after being entrapped by a spa drain in 2002.
Apartment owners are advised to evaluate their pool drain systems to determine if adjustments are required by the December 19, 2008 deadline. Importantly, these requirements are not limited to newly constructed pools; they covers all pools, regardless the date of construction. As a result, some existing pools may require retrofitting of covers and other devices. Violations of the Act can result in civil or criminal penalties. The maximum penalty for one or more related violations is $1.825 million.
The legislation does three things:
- mandates that drain covers manufactured or distributed in the U.S. conform to the entrapment standards of ASME/ANSI A112.19.as of December 19, 2008;
- requires all public pools and spas, including those at apartment properties, to be equipped with proper anti-entrapment drain covers by December 19, 2008 as well as other devices if operating a pool with a single main drain; and
- establishes a swimming pool safety grant program for states with laws that meet certain minimum requirements and will administered by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
Pools with a single main drain, other than what is called an unblockable drain, i.e. one that a human body cannot sufficiently block, must also be equipped with one or more of the following anti-entrapment device or systems:
- safety vacuum release system;
- suction limiting vent system;
- gravity drainage system;
- automatic pump shut off system;
- drain disablement or other systems determined to be as effective as the above.