Skip to Content
chevron-left chevron-right chevron-up chevron-right chevron-left arrow-back star phone quote checkbox-checked search wrench info shield play connection mobile coin-dollar spoon-knife ticket pushpin location gift fire feed bubbles home heart calendar price-tag credit-card clock envelop facebook instagram twitter youtube pinterest yelp google reddit linkedin envelope bbb pinterest homeadvisor angies

The Truth About Swimming Pool Drains

Have you ever heard about someone getting trapped in a swimming pool drain and meeting a grisly fate? You may have dismissed this as urban legend, but in fact, these accidents have happened far too often. That’s why, in 2008, a Federal law, the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act was passed to address this danger.

Swimming Pool Drain Cover Safety by Millennium Pools & Spas

What is the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act

This law was named for Virginia Graeme Baker, the 7 year old granddaughter of former Secretary of State James Baker III. Virginia was a proficient swimmer, and had been since age three, but unfortunately, she became trapped by the suction of a hot tub drain. Her mother, Nancy Baker, tried in vain to free her daughter, but it took two men using enough force to break the drain cover to free the little girl. Tragically, it was too late to save Virginia’s life. After this heartbreaking death, which occurred in 2002, Nancy Baker lobbied the United States Congress to pass a pool spa and safety law, and she worked tirelessly to see this come to pass. It finally gained traction in 2007, when Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz introduced the act, and came into effect in 2008, having been signed by President George W. Bush.

This law, also known as the VGB Act, requires the design of drain covers or suction outlet fitting assemblies in public swimming pools and spas to meet minimum entrapment standards. The intention is to prevent drain entrapment and child drownings, and it’s been largely successful, reducing the number of annual deaths caused by entrapment. However, drowning is still the leading cause of death among children. It’s crucial that all pool owners take steps to make sure their drain covers comply with the VGB Act.

Tips for Drain Cover Safety

  • Make sure your drain cover meets the appropriate standards, and replace it every 5 to 7 years so that it won’t expire.
  • If your pool drain is not in compliance with the VGB Act, don’t swim in the pool, particularly when the pump is running.
  • If the drain cover is damaged, loose, or missing, do not allow anyone to get into the water at all until it has been repaired or replaced. A broken drain cover can be hazardous, even without the suction created by the pump.
  • Explain to your children the dangers of entrapment, and teach them to stay away from the drain area.
  • Keep your pool area secure with fencing, safety covers, and pool alarms, to keep children from entering the pool without supervision.
  • Work with pool industry professionals that specialize in drain fittings and drain covers to ensure that your drain is in compliance.
  • Contain long hair and avoid wearing necklaces in the pool, to reduce the risk of entanglement.
  • Do not swim alone.
  • Clearly label your pump’s emergency shut-off switch and make sure it’s readily accessible.

Work with the Professionals

If you are looking for a pool company to inspect or replace your drain, Millennium Pools and Spas can help. With over 30 combined years of experience in the pool industry, we provide a comprehensive range of pool services, from swimming pool cleaning to pool renovation, for both residential and commercial customers in Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland. When you hire Millennium Pool Service, you get a well-qualified, industry-trained staff of pool contractors and technicians, services that are tailored to your needs, and a commitment to 100% customer satisfaction. Contact us for more information.

Request an Estimate Today