With pools preparing to open across Kentucky, Attorney General Jack Conway has some important tips for keeping kids safe this swim season. Conway and the Kentucky Department of Public Health are also warning public pool owners that they will not be allowed to open if their pools are not in compliance with the Virginia Graeme Baker (VGB) Pool and Spa Safety Act. The VGB Act is named in honor of former Secretary of State James Baker’s granddaughter, who died at age seven after being trapped under water because of the suction from a spa drain.
Signed by President George Bush in 2007, the VGB Pool and Spa Safety Act makes it illegal to manufacture, distribute or sell drain covers that do not adhere to the standards for antientrapment safety set by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The Act also requires public pools and spas to be equipped with these antientrapment drain covers as well as a device to disable the drain in the event of an entrapment.
Parents and caregivers are encouraged to follow these tips for a safe swim season:
• Always actively supervise children in and around water. Don’t leave, even for a moment.
• If you have a pool or spa, or if your child visits a home that has a pool or spa, it should be surrounded on all four sides by a fence at least five feet high with gates that close and latch automatically.
• A pool or spa should be equipped with an antientrapment drain cover and a safety vacuum release system to prevent children from being caught in the suction of the drain.
• Clear the pool and deck of toys as they could attract unsupervised kids. For extra protection, consider a pool alarm and alarms on the doors, windows and gates leading to the pool.
• Enroll your kids in swimming lessons around age four, but don’t assume swimming lessons make your child immune to drowning. There is no substitute for active supervision.
• Don’t rely on inflatable swimming toys such as “water wings” and noodles. If your child can’t swim, stay within arm’s reach.
• Learn infant and child CPR. In less than two hours, you can learn effective interventions that can give a fighting chance to a child whose breathing and heartbeat have stopped.
• Keep rescue equipment, a phone and emergency numbers by the pool.