Real drownings do not happen the way that they are portrayed in movies. They don't typically involve flailing and cries for help. They are often silent and happen when people get into a situation that they can't get themselves out of. They happen when no one is watching, which is precisely why you need a pool alarm.
Different types of pool alarms detect different types and levels of activity. Depending on your situation, you will need to choose the type that is best for you. Below, you can read about our favorite, the Lifebuoy Pool Alarm System, which is an app-controlled device that alerts you when something enters your pool unexpectedly. These are the types of alarms we are focused on, but you may also be interested in alarms that alert to possible electrical shock in a pool or around a boat dock, such as from an exposed wire or electricals short circuit. If so, see our second recommendation.
Considerations when choosing pool alarms
Four types of pool alarms
There are four types of pool alarms that you can choose from to help keep your family safe: threshold pool alarms, surface pool alarms, subsurface pool alarms, and wearable pool alarms.
Threshold pool alarms
These alarms are for the perimeter of your pool. They let you know when someone has opened a gate or a sliding door to enter the general pool area.
Surface pool alarms
These pool alarms float on the surface of the water and are triggered when there is sufficient turbulence to tilt the unit. They are prone to false alarms.
Subsurface pool alarms
These pool alarms monitor from beneath the surface of the water, making them less prone to false alarms.
Wearable pool alarms
These devices are worn by an individual and trigger under specific conditions. Often, all it takes is getting the wearable device wet, but some models allow you to set up other parameters as well.
Besides determining the type of pool alarm you need, there are a few other features to consider before purchasing.
In order to keep your alarm from sounding in the middle of the night because of something like a bat skimming across the surface of your pool looking for insects, you will need a sensitivity setting that allows you to fine tune exactly what it takes to set off your pool alarm.
You will appreciate a pool alarm that can notify you and be controlled via your smartphone.
A pool alarm that you can't hear is not useful. Conversely, a pool alarm that is subject to false alarms that wake the neighbors can put you in unfavorable standings with the neighborhood. Choose wisely.
A realistic budget for a basic pool alarm is around $150. If you'd like to go higher and enhance your user experience with bells and whistles, you can easily spend up to $300. Unless you are getting a threshold pool alarm, however, be leery about purchasing products that are below $150.
Q. Does the shape of my pool affect how the pool alarm will work?
A. Yes. Depending on the shape (and size) of your pool, it is possible to install your pool alarm in a location that may not be able to detect all areas of your pool. Always thoroughly read your owner's manual and follow all installation instructions. It is possible that you may need more than one unit to cover your entire pool.
Q. Can weather, birds, a running hose, or my automatic pool cleaner trigger my pool alarm?
A. It is entirely possible to have false alarms that are triggered for any number of reasons, especially with surface pool alarms. If you anticipate a storm or some other activity that may set off an alarm, you can dial back the sensitivity or even temporarily disable your alarm. However, do not forget to reactivate or increase the sensitivity afterwards. The occasional nuisance of a false alarm is far better than any other alternative.
Pool alarms we recommend
Best of the best: Lifebuoy Pool Alarm: Pool Alarm System
Our take: An intelligent pool security system with many features that help make your swimming pool safer for everyone.
What we like: This pool alarm system can detect the difference between swimmers and someone accidentally falling in when no one is around. It lets you know if the cover has been removed and can be remotely controlled via an app.
What we dislike: It is a pricier model, but the features you get can help provide peace of mind.
Best bang for your buck: ShockAlarm: Electric Shock Drowning Safety Protection
Our take: This device alerts you to any stray electrical currents that may be present in your swimming pool or around boats and docks.
What we like: The flashing light on this unit is easy to see, and it quickly lets you know if there is any electrical current present in the water. ShockAlarm's protection device is fully portable, so it can be used wherever you are swimming.
What we dislike: It is important to note that this unit will not alert you to unwanted entry into your pool water, it only notifies you of a stray electrical current.
Choice 3: Blue Wave: Poolwatch Pool Alarm System
Our take: A moderately priced pool alarm system that installs on either above-ground or in-ground pools.
What we like: Bluewave's pool alarm system installs on the side of your pool and meets the safety requirements for residential pools (ASTM F2208). It monitors the pool water and has a wireless receiver with a range of approximately 100 feet.
What we dislike: The unit can be a little tricky to get it to respond with the sensitivity level you desire, but once you figure it out, it will work as expected.
Allen Foster is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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