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All pools and spas must adhere to the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act

(January 12) -- The Utah County Health Department (UCHD) announced today the notice of closure of six public pools and/or spas that were in violation of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act.

"We have been working with pool operators for almost two years now," said Jason Garrett, UCHD program manager. "We have about 400 pools and spas operating in the county."

The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act is a federal safety requirement through the Consumer Product Safety Commission to require all public bathing facilities to be equipped with anti-entrapment drain covers by the end of 2008. "Although passed, we had no authority to enforce the act until the state of Utah changed its rules," explained Garrett. This happened last year, requiring all pools to be in compliance by December of 2009.

Garrett explained that the UCHD had been working with pools since the federal law passed to encourage compliance. Most did so, but a handful had to be visited and closed on Monday. "The last thing any facility manager wants is to have an incident," said Garrett. "Most started working towards compliance almost immediately. A few either didn't know about it or didn't think the act applied to them." He said this was especially true for smaller spas that weren't necessarily open so a member of the public could just walk in and use it. With the exception of hydro-therapy pools, places like day spas or injury treatment centers still have to comply, even if a person can only use the spa under very strict guidelines or memberships.

In 2002, the granddaughter of former Secretary of State James Baker became trapped under water by the suction of a hot tub's drain. The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act was created to prevent the entrapment of individuals either due to suction or hair entanglement. Safety guidelines include such things as multiple drains for a pool and special covers that wont allow a person to become trapped. "Utah County hasn't had a drowning tragedy due to entrapment," said Garrett. "There has been some injuries, though."

The Utah County Health Department seeks to promote health, and prevent avoidable disease and injury by monitoring the health of our community, and assuring conditions in which people can be healthy. This includes overseeing pool and spa operators in the county. The complete Utah Division of Administrative Rules, Rule R392-302. Design, Construction and Operation of Public Pools, can be found at http://www.rules.utah.gov/publicat/code/r392/r392-302.htm. Other information on pool safety can be found at www.utahcountyonline.org/Dept2/Health/Environmental%20Health/Pools/Gen_Info.asp.