Entrapment prevention efforts quickly gained ….
Entrapment prevention efforts quickly gained traction after that.
Pennington took the new Florida Building Code to Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Democrat, who was immediately on board to carry the bill.
Alan Korn, an attorney with Safe Kids International, was instrumental in writing the language of the Virginia Graeme Baker Act. Working closely with Pennington, he was the front-man, carrying the message from the pool industry to the Senate Committee.
Meanwhile, Gary Duren, who was experienced in safety standards, became involved, and took the Florida building code to the International Code Council, where they created a standard about layers of protection, making it law in many states.
In May, 2006, Korn and Safe Kids helped get Secretary of State and Republican James Baker and Nancy Baker on the Larry King Live Program. While they were on the show, Senator Chris Dodd, a Democrat from Connecticut who was watching the show, called in and offered to cosponsor legislation to prevent suction entrapment.
“It took off like wild fire after that, with 19 or 20 co-sponsors of the bill that Debbie Wasserman Shultz wrote, from the Florida Building Code. All of the news channels were covering it,” Pennington said In July of 2007, Abigale Rose Taylor was eviscerated after falling on an open pool drain, and died of her injuries nine months after the accident.
Just one month later, Zachary Cohn, son of billionaire Brian Cohn, drowned after his arm was sucked into uncovered drain. It resulted in the first major lawsuit of a pool contractor, who was charged with manslaughter.
2007 was a bad year for suction entrapments – altogether there were 74 reports of circulation entrapments with nine total deaths.
By December of that year, the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act was signed into federal law by President George W. Bush.
Today, SVRS is required in public pools with a single drain. Although its not required in pools with two or more drains, Vac-Alert still recommends it be installed because there have been entrapment incidents in dual drain pools due to each drain being plumbed to its own pump, negating the point of having two drains.
Pennington says its important for people to know the majority of suction entrapments occur in residential pools and spas, where many of the drain covers were altogether missing. Pennington estimates there are hundreds of thousands of pools with a single drain, where SVRS systems should be installed, although they are only required by federal law at public pools.
“All of these pools with just a single drain, and no SVRS. Drain covers come off – that’s just a fact,” Pennington said.
The Pool and Hot Tub Alliance PHTA-7 standard, that has been adopted at state or municipality levels, advocates the use of SVRS, especially in pools with a single drain.
Pennington says people can help by supporting the PHTA, who are working to get states to adopt these standards into law.
“Jennifer Hatfield, government affairs lobbyist for the PHTA, needs financial support to tighten up pool safety regulations in multiple states. She works tirelessly trying to stop entrapment deaths from happening,” Pennington said.
Furthermore, Pennington says that service technicians have a responsibility to warn their customers about suction entrapment, and install anti-entrapment devices. If they don’t and someone gets hurt, he says they are ones who will be blamed and they will be held liable.
“It’s the residential pools, single drain pools without SVRS – they’re all just sitting there, ticking time bombs,” Pennington said.