Changing your pool drains might save lives

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - School is back in session, but summer is not gone just yet. With Usher's young son getting stuck in the pool drainage when he tried to get his toy, along with a new aquatic center opening in Columbus on August 10, 2013, pool safety is a big talker again.

James Worsley, the director of Parks and Recreation Department, said all public pools in Columbus, Georgia follow the Pool and Spa Safety Act, also known as the Virginia Graeme Baker Act that was passed back in 2007. This legislation requires most public pools to install up-to-date pool drains to prevent any suction entrapment or injuries that can occur from drains.

"We have four outdoor pools, and all of them are in compliance with the act," Worsley explained. "The new Columbus Aquatic Center is also installed with drainages that is designed to protect people from harm."

Virginia Graeme Baker was a seven year old girl who died from drowning. Her death was caused by suction entrapment from a hot tub drain in 2002. Baker was the daughter of Nancy and James Baker IV, also the son of former Secretary of State James Baker III. The statute which required anti entrapment drain covers and other safety devices to prevent deaths from drowning or drain entrapment, was signed into law in 2007.

Ed Saidla, program manager for the West Central Health District, also told News Leader 9 that someone in the household should learn how to operate the swimming pool, properly perform CPR, and conduct other safety procedures in case there is an emergency.

"Hair, legs, arms and other parts of our body can get sucked into the drain," Saidla explained. "Most public pools comply with the Pool and Spa Act, so I don't worry about this issue occurring in trustworthy public pools. However, private pool owners should think about switching to use these drains that comply with the act. Most private pools or old pools use the old drains where suction accidents can definitely occur."

Any pool repair or installation companies can assist with changing pool drains. Saidla explained switching to the safer drains is not expensive. However, draining all the pool water to perform this task might be costly.

"It's worth it," Saidla said. "You will not have to worry about your child's safety. However, parents should always look after their children in pools or anywhere else. Learn CPR. Tell them not to hang out around the drainage. Educate them and always stay alert."

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