by Rob Cox, February 24, 2011
Swimming Pool Alarms: Layers of Protection
Swimming pool alarms save lives. More and more communities are adopting this attitude and requiring pool alarms to be installed on swimming pools, in addition to laws requiring proper pool fencing and other Layers of Protection.
Swimming pool alarms have been around now for nearly 30 years. In speaking with Ben Stoner, from Poolguard pool alarms, his father invented and patented one the first pool alarm in the 1980's, as a response to growing needs for safer swimming pools.
Layers of Protection around your swimming pool can include:
- Outer barriers or outer fencing surrounding the pool
- Inner Barriers or pool access limiters. Walls, Shrubbery, Fences, Safety Covers
- Security Cameras or Laser perimeter alarms
- Poolside pool alarms or wristband pool alarms
- Window, Door and Gate alarms on all points leading to the pool
- Rescue equipment and a working telephone
- Pool Rules signage
- Clear line of sight from the house
Types of Swimming Pool Alarms
- Laser Perimeter Pool Alarms - As shown in the picture above, the PE41 pool alarm shoots an invisible beam of light between posts. Each post is a receiver and transmitter to the next post. Anytime the light beam is disrupted, the alarm is triggered. The PE41 is not a wireless system, meaning that you will need to install wires between the posts. These can be run in conduit on the edge of the deck, or put into the expansion joint behind the coping stones, beneath the caulking. It can give false alarms, if a leaf or bird flies in front of the beam, but on the whole, laser perimeter pool alarms have seen steady growth and use in the U.S..
- In Pool Displacement Sensor Pool Alarms - Either sitting on the edge of the pool, like the PoolGuard PGRM-2, or attached to the ladder or coping, like the PoolEye PE22, displacement alarms sense the displacement of your pool water when an object greater than 15 lbs enters the water. These alarms sound a loud warning at the unit, and also at a remote unit that is plugged in, inside the house. False alarms can occur during heavy storms, or if a flock of ducks visits your pool. Sensitivity adjustments allow you to account for such activity or the activity of pool alarms or water features.
- Wristband Pool Alarms - Made by SafetyTurtle, these cute, colorful wristbands lock onto the child's wrist. If that wrist is submerged in water for a fraction of a second, a 120db alarm will sound at the Safety Turtle base station. The wristbands come in 5 colors, but all wristbands need to be the same color, to match the frequency of the base station. An available battery pack allows use on the boat, beach or lake. A new competitor to SafetyTurtle has added a feature that will also sound the alarm if the child wanders beyond a pre-set limit, say 100' from the base station. One can imagine many uses, in shopping malls or amusement parks, in addition to staying inside a safe perimeter, and away from the swimming pool.
- Floating Pool Alarms - Sometimes the best choice for certain pools, especially small portable pools, ponds or irregular water features. The Pool Patrol is free floating, or it can be tied to something on the edge. It basically operates like a Tilt mechanism in a pinball game. When the unit is jostled too much, two sensors come in contact with each other, and set off the alarm in the pool, and for the P-30 model, also sounds the alarm at a remote unit installed elsewhere.
Pool owners should be wary of new alarms coming from overseas, as they are of poor build quality. Look for an alarm that has been tested over time and is 3rd party certified to ASTM standards. Also look for an alarm that comes with a good warranty and a company with a good reputation, that can help you calibrate and configure your pool alarm, if necessary.