The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (VGBA) is a United States law named after Graeme Baker, who died in an accident in June 2002, when the suction from a spa drain entrapped her under the water. She was the daughter of James and Nancy Baker and the granddaughter of former Secretary of State James Baker III.
Consumer Product Safety Commission staff began investigating reported incidents of swimming pool/spa suction entrapment incidents in the 1970s. Such incidents included entrapment of hair, body, limb, evisceration or disembowelment and mechanical entrapment of jewelry or bathing suits. From 1999 to 2007 for all age categories records were examined. In 2007, for all age categories, there were 74 reports of circulation entrapments. Individuals in the 5- to 9-year-old category had the highest frequency of entrapment reports.
In 2007, the Virgina Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act was signed into law.
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THE VIRGINA GRAEME BAKER STORY
On June 15, 2002, Virginia Graeme Baker (fondly known to her friends and family as Graeme), granddaughter of former Secretary of State James Baker, went with her mother, Nancy, and four sisters to a family friend’s home for a graduation party. It was held outdoors, and the focal point was the swimming pool and hot tub.
Graeme had worn her swimsuit to the party and jumped into the pool as soon as they arrived. A short time later, Graeme’s older sister ran to their mother and said that Graeme was under water in the hot tub and would not come up. Nancy ran to the hot tub, but could not see her child due to the bubbles obscuring the surface and the dark water.
Nancy jumped into the hot tub and discovered the horrific sight of her daughter’s unconscious body on the bottom. The memory of seeing Graeme’s body, moving only by the current created from the whirlpool, haunts Nancy daily.
Nancy desperately tried to pull her daughter out, but she couldn’t move her, and she couldn’t understand why she couldn’t bring her up to the surface. Two adult men at the party came and helped, finally managing to free Graeme and pulling so hard the drain cover broke in the process. Lifesaving efforts were immediately performed on the little girl, but she couldn’t be revived. She was flown to Fairfax Hospital in Virginia and pronounced dead. Even at that time, her mother still did not understand what circumstances had led to her child drowning.
Seven-year-old Graeme was a member of the community swim and diving team and had been swimming unassisted since she was 3 years old — but her death is listed as a drowning. In fact, she drowned by entrapment, pinned under water by hundreds of pounds of suction force at the drain of the hot tub.
Nancy struggled with understanding how the death had happened – Graeme was a strong swimmer, it just didn’t make sense. What Nancy learned has given her the resolve to ensure her daughter’s death was not in vain.
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Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act
Virgina Grame Baker
Homeowner Association Commercial Pool Service Management