What can you expect from the technology designed to keep your pool safe?
You do the most to protect your kids as a parent. You “baby-proof” almost EVERY inch of your home as you prepare to welcome the newest addition to your family. You dress them up in battle gear as they go outside to ride their bike. You even set restrictions on electronics to protect them from the black hole that is the Internet. But how do you protect your kids from the danger of drowning in your very own backyard pool? In recent years, a pool alarm has become a common installation in pools to protect kids from the threat of drowning. These simple devices come in many different variations and all have their advantages along with their disadvantages. This article aims to educate parents on the different types of pool alarms currently on the market, their pros and cons, and why we at SAFEli are designing our own improved pool alarm.
Floating Motion Sensors:
These types of pool alarms float on the surface of the pool and detect unusual wavelengths in the pool. It will sound an alarm on the device once a child or pet has fallen into the pool. Most products can be hastened to the side of the pool with a tether.
Pros: Easy installation and easy to remove from pool. Can save lives if help responds quickly.
Cons: The alarm will only sound once your child or pet has already fallen into the pool. Also, things such as wind that cause a lot of disturbance on the surface of your pool will cause frequent false alarms.
Wearable Immersion Systems:
These types of pool alarms most commonly come in the form of a individual wristband worn by a child that is connected to a main hub. The sensor on the wristband is triggered when the wristband become submerged in water or when it comes within a certain distance from the pool. The wristband then sends a signal to the main hub that then sets off an alarm.
Pros: This type of wearable wristband would cause less false alarms than traditional poolside alarms as the sensor is housed on the child. No alarms are needed to be activated/deactivated if people, other than the child with the wristband, are wanting to swim.
Cons: This pool alarm does keeps only the one wearing the wristband safe as opposed to the entire pool. Suppose a neighbor were to come over and accidentally slip into the pool, no alarm would sound and the child would most likely die. For this reason, some states, such as California, do not qualify wearable immersion pool alarms as an adequate pool safety system under their Pool Safety laws. Additionally, for wearable pool alarms that trigger an alarm when the wristband is submerged, this occurs when the child has already fallen into the pool and it might be too late. Finally, wristbands can be taken off and misplaced easily by children and parents.
Surface/Subsurface Infrared Systems:
The pool alarm itself is housed on the edge of the pool and creates a grid-like pattern over and sometimes under the surface of the water using infrared sensors. Once the sensor detects unusual wavelengths on or under the surface of the pool, an alarm sounds warning pool owners of a potential dangerous situation such as a child falling into the pool.
Pros: Infrared sensors are typically more reliable and cause less false alarms than floating motion alarms.
Cons: This type of sensor once again sounds after a child has already fallen into the pool, when most parents would prefer to know of a potential danger of drowning before their child has fallen into the pool. These pool alarms also have a minimum detect weight of 15-18 lbs which can be a concern if a small child or pet were to fall into the pool and the sensor fails to detect a disturbance. We personally tested these types of pool alarms and found them to be incredibly unreliable and inconsistent.
Pool alarms today lack the consistency and function to be heavily relied on by parents as a needed safety measure to keep their kids safe around the pool area. Most pool alarms alert parents of potential danger when it is too late; when a child has already fallen into the pool. Drownings happen quickly and quietly, and every second counts when it comes to saving a child’s life. Unfortunately, hundreds of cases happen each year where parents are left in grief and regret as they find their child has drowned in their own backyard because they arrive to late. Pool alarms should be designed to alert parents of potential danger BEFORE an incident of kid falling into the pool has occurs. Also, pool alarms should be reliable and simple so parents do not become annoyed with the hassle of false alarms and inconsistency that results cause them to stop using the pool alarm altogether. At SAFEli, we are striving to create a pool alarm that protects your pool and your kids the way pool alarms should function. Read more about our design and progress on our Prevention Plan page.