Q. Why did you start the Abbey’s Hope Foundation?
A. Abbey’s Hope was founded to fulfill Abbey’s wish that no other person would ever suffer the way she did from an improperly maintained pool. In the summer of 2007, she was entrapped in a wading pool drain, which pulled out a part of her intestinal tract. For the next nine months she was in and out of the hospital as doctors tried to repair her internal organs. She lost her fight in 2008 after 16 surgeries and a triple organ transplant. Before Abbey died, she told her parents that she hoped that no other person would ever suffer the way she did. In 2009, the Taylors created the Foundation to educate others on pool and spa safety.
Q. What’s the Foundation’s ultimate goal?
A. Abbey’s Hope wants to make pools and spas safer by educating parents and pool operators about the potential hazards of drain entrapment, encouraging them to stay vigilant when children are in the water, and strengthening compliance with pool and spa legislation.
Q. What is entrapment?
A. Entrapment occurs when a person is trapped by the suction power of the drain in a pool or spa. There are 300 pounds per square inch (PSI) at this point and smaller people don’t have the strength to pull themselves free. It often involves a piece of clothing, jewelry or hair getting caught, which traps them under water. Sometimes, as in Abbey’s case, the drain has such force that it literally disembowels a person.
Q. How often does entrapment occur?
A. Since 1988, 14 people have died as a result of entrapment. Many more have been injured. But the numbers really don’t matter to the parents who have a child die or get injured by something that is preventable. A single death or injury is one too many.
Q. What can parents do?
A. 1) Check pools out when you arrive to make sure they are compliant. 2) Take part in the Water Watchdog program. Abbey’s Hope has created a lanyard that is worn by a designated watcher. This ensures you have an extra set of eyes. No one can watch your child better than you. 3) Learn CPR. 4) Make sure your kids know how to swim. 5) Tell them not to play with drains. 6) If you have a private pool, install four-sided fencing around it.
Q. What can pool operators do?
A. They need to make sure they are compliant with the laws regarding pool and spa safety. And then inspect the pools every day to ensure they remain in compliance.
Q. When did the Abigail Taylor Act go into law?
A. The Abigail Taylor Act was signed into law in Minnesota in May 2008. Essentially, it calls for all Minnesota public pools to include anti-entrapment materials and mechanisms, and that pool operators physically inspect drain covers to ensure compliance.
Q. Who was Virginia Graeme Baker?
A. 7-year-old Virginia Graeme Baker died after the powerful suction of a spa drain entrapped her under water. Her mother, Nancy Baker, the daughter-in-law of former Secretary of State James Baker, pushed for federal pool and spa safety legislation in 2005. President Bush signed The Virginia Graeme Baker (VGB) Pool and Spa Safety Act into law in 2007. Essentially, the law requires pools and spas to have anti-entrapment drain covers.
Q: Which types of pools and spas pose the greatest danger of entrapment and evisceration to consumers?
A: Children’s wading pools, other pools designed specifically for young children, and in-ground spas that have flat drain grates and single main drain systems.