Requirements for Public Pools

Learn more about the P&SS Act—federal legislation mandating new safety standards for public pools and spas. Find out whether the P&SS Act applies to your pool or spa and what updates you might need to make to bring your pool or spa into compliance with federal law.

an image of a public poolOn Dec. 17, 2007, the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act (P&SS Act) was signed into law. This important child safety law became effective in December 2008 and strives to:

  • Enhance the safety of public and private pools and spas
  • Reduce child drownings in pools and spas (nearly 300 each year are children younger than five)
  • Reduce the number of suction entrapment incidents, injuries and deaths
  • Encourage the use of multiple safety steps
  • Educate the public on the importance of constant supervision of children in and around water

In its role as the lead agency implementing and enforcing the Act, CPSC is working with the pool and spa safety community to encourage the use of multiple safety steps, such as fencing around pools, constant supervision of children and requiring anti-entrapment drain covers and other safety devices on all public pools and spas.

The Act establishes a series of strict standards for public pool and spa safety, focusing on the importance of installing anti-entrapment drain covers and other devices in public facilities. The compliance effort is complemented by public education efforts through CPSC’s Pool Safely campaign.

The P&SS Act mandated the following changes in federal pool and spa regulations for public pools and spa:

  • All pool drain covers manufactured, distributed or entered into commerce on or after Dec. 19, 2008, must meet the ASME/ANSI A112.19.8 standard.
  • All public pools and spas must be equipped with new ASME/ANSI A112.19.8 compliant drain covers.
  • Pools and spas operating off of a single main drain (other than an unblockable drain) must also add one or more of the following options:
    • A safety vacuum release system (SVRS)
    • A suction-limiting vent system
    • A gravity drainage system
    • An automatic pump shut-off system
    • A disabled drain
    • Any other system determined by the Commission to be equally effective as, or better than, the others listed above.

A pool may have more than one single main drain. If a pool has dual or multiple main drains more than 3 feet apart, it may be exempt from this final requirement. Pools and spas with single main drains that are unblockable are also exempt from this requirement.

The P&SS Act also strengthened the CPSC’s civil and criminal penalty authority, giving the agency the ability to shut down pools or spas that are not in compliance with the law.

Who is Virginia Graeme Baker?

Seven-year-old Virginia Graeme Baker’s tragic death inspired her family to advocate for pool and spa safety and moved Congress to act to prevent entrapments. 
Read more about her story

The Pool and Spa Safety Act: Staff interpretation and updates


Find the most up to date requirements for the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act.