New Pool Drain Law is in Effect

Filed under: Health & Safety: Babies, In The News, Health & Safety: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Health & Safety: Big Kids

Pool safety is on everyone's mind in the summer. Image: sxc.hu

If your family is like ours, then you make good use of the public pool every summer. We go twice a week for swimming lessons and every now and then for $2 Tuesdays to take advantage of the slide and water features.

But while pools, public or private, are a great way to enjoy the warm summer weather, safety is always a factor when kids are in the water.

While parents know how to protect their kids from downing, some pools -- despite a 2008 law -- might still contain a hidden danger: Flat pool drains. After several children were seriously hurt or killed getting stuck on these powerful drains -- some use up to 800 pounds of suction -- the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool Safety Act was passed last fall.

The law requires all public pools to replace their old flat drain covers with new, safer designs. And while pools should have been compliant by December 19, 2009, not everyone is. In fact, the Consumer Product Safety Commission -- which only has 100 inspectors -- has kicked off a national awareness campaign. They're asking parents and other pool users who suspect a pool isn't compliant to call a toll-free number, 1-800-638-2772 to report their information.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more tips for keeping your kiddo safe in the pool this summer, including:

  • Ensure any pool is properly fenced and gated to prevent children getting to it unsupervised.
  • Never leave children -- even older kids -- alone in the pool. In fact, even adults shouldn't use a pool alone. Young children shouldn't be trusted not to climb in while backs are turned.
  • Life jackets are preferred to "floaties" for keeping non-swimmers afloat, but neither should replace parent supervision.
  • Infants and toddlers should be in arm's length of an adult, which means -- yes, parents have to swim too.
  • Swimming lessons for young children should be considered fun and exercise, not a way to prevent drowning.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.