One of the
first states to do so, Ohio has set anti-entrapment requirements for new and existing
public swimming pools and spas. The measure is an attempt to curtail incidents of
bodily entrapment in spa and pool drains.
Promulgated by the Ohio Department of Health, the rules will
apply to all existing and new public swimming, wading and specialty use pools,
as well as public spas.
According to Michele Willis, chief engineer of the Bureau
of Local Services for the Ohio Department of Health, the new rules are a
result of a five-year review of existing pool regulations by an ad hoc committee
consisting of several public and private agencies, including the Ohio
Department of Health, local state agencies and industry representatives.
Under the rules, spas and pools with direct suction
plumbing will have to install at least one of two anti-entrapment safety measures either a dual main-drain system or a vacuum-limit switch.
A vent line will also be accepted as an alternative to the vacuum-limit switch for
wading and specialty use pools.
Manufacturers of vacuum-limiting switches are praising
the measure and have been cooperating with the Department of Health in getting their
products approved by the state as a means of fulfilling the safety guidelines.
Mike Low, customer representative for Spa Parts Plus,
which distributes the Stingl Switch, an influent blockage detection system,
commended the new regulations. "Ohio is the first state that has stepped up to the
plate and has actually regulated it effective now", Low says.
The Bureau contacted Low with an interest in reviewing the
effectiveness of the Stingl Switch, which the Bureau tested and approved in March.
Another product reviewed by the Bureau is the Vac-Alert Safety Valve from
Vac-Alert Industries. The Vac-Alert is a non-electrical valve that monitors the vacuum
within the plumbing.
Ron Schroader, technical director for Vac-Alert
Industries, says he also was contacted by officials from the Ohio Department of Health to
demonstrate the valve before a state inspector. "The main thing they were after was
the cease and release operation of our valve; our valve ceases a suction and releases it
from a drain," Schroader explains.
"Were working on guidelines now," says Willis,
noting that the Bureau is continuing to look at products to approve for use.
"Were not quite done with all the evaluations," she says.
Willis adds that while the new regulations add a measure of
safety, they are not a panacea. "We want to make sure that we say that no one can
guarantee that this will prevent all injuries, but the intent behind the rule is if
there are safety features that can be added to prevent injuries or death, they should be
added to the rule."
Texas and Utah are currently considering similar regulations.