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Pool and Spa Safety

The Pool and Spa Safety Act, also known as Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, requires all public pools to install special suction entrapment prevention devices or systems, establishes a state swimming pool safety grant program, and requires the Consumer Product Safety Commission to establish and carry out an education program on preventing drowning and entrapment in pools and spas. For additional information, visit

What are Public Pools and Spas?

A public pool or spa (which includes hot tubs) can include those that are:

  • Generally open to the public, whether for a fee or free of charge
  • Open exclusively to:
    • Members of an organization and their guests
    • Multiple family residential facilities
    • Hotels or other public accommodations
    • Operated by the federal government for the military and their dependents and for any federal agency or department

Pool and Spa Safety Act Compliance

This law requires new and existing public pools and spas to be equipped with certified covers on every suction outlet. All drain covers must meet the ASME/ANSI A112.19.8-2007 standard and display:

  • Use – single or multiple
  • Flow rate GPM
  • “Life” (number of years)
  • Wall and/or floor mount
  • Manufacturer’s name
  • Model number

It also requires that all public pools and spas with a single main drain (other than an unblockable drain), or multiple drains less than 3 feet apart, have the drain(s) disabled or a second anti-entrapment device or system installed. A drain can be disabled by:

  • Filling with concrete
  • Gluing in a plug
  • Reversing the flow
  • Permanently disconnecting the drain from pool pump suction
  • Permanently disconnecting the suction outlet pipe from all circulation systems

Secondary anti-entrapment systems include:

  • Safety vacuum release system
  • Suction limiting vent system
  • Gravity drainage system
  • Automatic pump shut-off
  • Drain disablement device or system
  • Equivalent system approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission

A pool or spa with a broken, loose or missing drain cover should be closed immediately until repairs are made by a licensed professional.

Enforcement of the Pool and Spa Safety Act

The Pool and Spa Safety Act states that its requirements will be treated as a consumer product safety rule under the Consumer Product Safety Act and enforced by local health departments. Pools and spas covered by this law should not be opened to the public unless they are brought in compliance. A willful violation of the drain cover standard could result in criminal penalties, including fines or imprisonment.

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