Thursday, May 21, 2009


* Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of swim season, but this year there's been a change to local pools in North Carolina.

All public pools and spas must have anti-entrapment drains or safety vacuum release systems in place before opening for the season. The federal Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act of 2007 gave all public pools until December of 2008 and seasonal pools until they opened this year to comply with the new law.

The law came about after 7-year-old Virginia Graeme Baker, the granddaughter of former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker, III died in a backyard spa after the powerful suction of a drain entrapped her underwater. The powerful suction created by the pump can cause a swimmer to get stuck to a drain or suction outlet, and then they can't free themselves, no matter how strong a swimmer they may be. It is extremely difficult for onlookers to break this suction by lifting the person off the drain - to do so, you would have to be able to lift more than 500 pounds. Even several people working together probably won't be able to free the victim - the vacuum must be broken.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more people were killed or injured in residential pools and spas than in public swimming facilities.

While this is a federal law, the North Carolina Building Code Council adopted language in March to change the state building code, mirroring the federal law for public and new residential pools and spas.

This building code change will take effect in June. Public pools include all hotel, apartment, community, club or any pool or spa that is not considered a "backyard pool." All new residential pools must comply with the new building requirements from this point forward.

Injury is the leading cause of death for children in North Carolina. Each year more than 200 children under the age of 15 die, about 3,000 are admitted to hospitals, and more than 45,000 receive other medical care as a result of injuries. In a typical year one out of every 34 children in North Carolina experiences an injury that results in death or medical care.

  • Scott Richardson, South Carolina Insurance Director, announced that American Strategic Insurance Corporation (ASI) has entered the South Carolina marketplace and is offering homeowners' insurance coverage for coastal property owners. ASI, domiciled in Florida, is offering homeowners' coverage to South Carolinians through its network of independent agents.

    Richardson and the SC Department of Insurance will host a Public Meeting to discuss South Carolina's coastal insurance marketplace, May 28, from 6-7:30 p.m. at Buyer Auditorium at The Citadel. For further information contact the SC Department of Insurance, (803) 737-6207 or visit

ASI, a $500M insurance company with over 400,000 policyholders across Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Colorado and Arizona specializes in personal lines property insurance and also offers flood coverages as a Write Your Own (WYO) Flood Service Provider. ASI will add additional insurance products for renters and those owning second homes. For more information, visit

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