by Mark Garcia March 28, 2014
May is Pool Safety Month, but why wait until then? If you are considering a pool alarm for your pool, to protect young children or old pets, this post is for you.
Pool alarms will not keep your pool safe. They are a poor substitute for a 4-sded fence or safety cover, and must be combined with constant supervision, swim lessons, and strong pool rules - and it can lead to a false sense of security.
If you read pool alarm reviews (and I do), you'll see that nearly all models suffer from false alarms, and it could be either - false-positive or false-negative alarms. Nonetheless, pool alarms can still be a valuable Layer of Protection, to supplement other pool safety measures around the pool.
Today, let's review several of the popular pool alarms, and I'll pepper the conversation with some of my own subjective and objective opinions. ;-)
In this category are the alarms that sit on the edge of the pool, or attach to a ladder. They are meant to detect sub-surface motion, thereby eliminating most false alarms from wind or birds. In general, it takes a 15-20 lb object to fall into the pool within 20 feet of the unit for its displacement sensor to trigger the alarm. Poolguard has been in business for over 30 years, with the PoolGuard pool alarm. Ten years later came PoolEye, a line of pool alarms from Smartpool. New on the market is the AquaGuard pool alarm, which claims increased ability to ignore wind, water features and some pool cleaners. All 3 of these come with instructions for mounting onto the edge of the pool. PoolEye also makes the PE-20 which can be mounted to a ladder handrail, or to the overhanging edge of pool coping, without drilling small anchors into the pool deck. The PoolGuard Safety Buoy, great for softsided pools or small aboveground pools, fountains or small ponds. It's a floating pool alarm, but uses subsurface detection to eliminate many false alarms.
Subsurface pool alarms don't work well in all situations, and may have false alarms in areas of high winds, or pools with lots of visiting birds. Pool cleaners and water features with lots of splashing water can trigger a false alarm, which is never any fun. Too many of those, and you could start to run more slowly to the pool.
Surface pool alarms float on the surface of the pool, and are best kept tied to a string or twine, to keep them in the center of the pool. They operate with a type of Tilt Alarm, like an old pinball game. A vertically hanging metal rod is suspended inside of a 1.5" sensor ring. If the rod touches the ring, the alarm goes off. It senses the surface disruption caused by an object falling into the pool, as it bobs on the surface waves. The Pool Patrol is the most well known floating pool alarm. A new kid on the block, the PoolGuard Safety Buoy, is a floating alarm, but actually uses sub-surface detection.
Surface alarms can be used in pools without a hard edge, or in ponds or fountains. They tend to be more prone to false alarms than sub-surface detection pool alarms.
In this category, there are recent new developments. The original, and only wearable pool alarms until now, is the poolcenter favorite, the Safety Turtle, a turtle shaped wristband which sounds an alarm at a base station if the wristband gets wet. New on the market is the iSwimband, which is worn around the head while swimming, and sounds an alert if the child is underwater for longer than a preset time, say 30 seconds. Taking it even further is a product called the SEAL, a programmable band worn around the neck, that can be set to a range of alarm options. This last item is set for product release in 2014.
Wearable pool alarms are, in my opinion, much better suited to the task of protecting a child. They are also portable and easy to use on vacation, or while visiting friends homes, nearly anywhere there is water - not just pools. Do kids like to wear these? Probably not, but when you explain to them the importance of wearing these devices, they can gain a little awareness of pool safety.
Thanks for Reading