by Rob Cox, February 08, 2011
Katie Beth's Law
A new pool safety law has taken effect in Tennessee as of January 1, 2011. Named after the Great-Granddaughter of Tennessee state Senator Charlotte Burk, this new pool safety law aims to ensure an active layer of protection around all swimming pools and spas that are greater than 36 inches deep.
"The depth requirement was clearly unique in this bill" states a representative from Senator Burk's office. "Tennessee has a large number of above ground pools, and these account for close to half of all drowning incidents in the state".
Another interesting rider on the bill requires pool and spa sales companies to post signs in their place of business stating that "State Law requires a Pool Alarm be Installed". Many local Tennessee pool and spa retailers are seeing an increase in pool alarm sales. The law is quite specific in the models that can be used, as one of the main requirements is that the alarm sense an object of 15lbs being dropped into the pool. The Poolguard PGRM-2 or the PoolEye PE-22 will both meet the new pool safety code in Tennessee.
Katie Beth's law covers all new pool and spa construction, but also applies to any renovation project for which a permit is required. Small equipment changes do not normally require permits, but major pool jobs such as plaster, tile and coping may require a permit to be pulled. If so, the pool owner is then required to have a working pool alarm on site for the inspection phase of the project.
Manufacturers of pool alarms, especially PoolGuard and PoolEye are of course supporting Katie Beth's law, as they stand to sell more pool alarms. Pool and spa dealers also benefit from increased sales, although some feel that increasing the overall price of the product (pool ownership) may drive consumers toward other uses of their discretionary income.
Pool safety alarms, per se, cannot prevent drownings, but surely this new law will help to prevent some future tragedies from occurring. Our hope is that this draws more attention to the issue of pool safety nationwide, and can encourage all pool owners to heed the wake up call presented here. There is no substitute for proper supervision and layers of protection around the pool. Technologies, or layers don't prevent drownings, in and of themselves.
The Katie Beth law will undoubtedly help reduce the number of drownings, and increase the number of near drownings - or possibly prevent accidents from occuring around the swimming pool, spa or other accessible body of water.
Other states are also considering similar legislation. Texas pool safety laws are being looked at now, and other sunbelt states are waiting to see how Tennessee acclimates to the new requirements. If you think this is a good idea, or a bad idea, comment below, or better yet - send a letter to your Congressman!