Pool Safety Alarms are a great way to increase safety around residential pools and spas. However, because alarms don’t actually prevent access to the water, alarms should never be used as the only Layer of Protection. Alarms should always be used as a back‐up to supervision, fences, and other protective barriers.
Types of Pool Safety Alarms
These alarms, called Submersible Alarms, are used at the edge of, or in the actual water. They can be used for both in‐ground or above‐ground pools or spas. These products create a high‐audible alarm at the poolside if they detect an object between 25‐45 lbs. entering the water. There are many different models to choose from. Some offer adjustable sensitivity and some come with a remote receiver to place in the house.
The alarms use infrared beams to create an “invisible fence” around a pool or spa. An alarm sounds if an object passes through the beams. One example of this type of alarm is the POOLEYE. Some perimeter alarms allow for any configuration of pool area.
Door, Gate & Window Alarms
House doors, pool gates, and house windows are the most frequent point‐of‐entry for children who gain access to the pool area. Adding alarms to the house doors, pool gates, and house windows will alert adults if the door, gate, or window has been opened or has not been closed securely. These alarms usually have two or more mounted sensors. When the door, for example, is closed, the two sensors touch. But when the door is opened and the sensors are pulled apart, the alarm will sound. These alarms do come with a bypass switch that allows an adult to deactivate the alarm for a short time to pass through the door (or gate) without sounding the alarm.
These alarms are worn on the child’s wrist and come with a base unit that is placed inside the home. Non‐swimmers wear the wristbands and if they come into contact with any water the alarm sounds. These alarms are ideal when swimming is NOT intended or for specific visiting children who are not supposed to be swimming. They also have an optional mobile unit that can be used anywhere, although the range is limited. These types of alarms can also be used for pets.
Benefits & Limitations of Alarms
All alarms require an adult response when activated. Alarms do not prevent access to the water. Alarms should never be used as your only defense against drowning. While there is no scientific research that shows that alarms are effective in prevention drowning, alarms can be a beneficial addition to a pool or spa owner’s overall prevention plan for water safety.
Fences, Gates & Latches play a vital role in the Layers of Protection to prevent drowning. When properly constructed and correctly maintained they help to reduce the risk of unauthorized access to the pool area.
There are two types of fencing discussed for pools and spas: 4‐Sided Isolation Fencing and Property Fencing.
4‐Sided Isolation Fencing completely isolates the pool or spa from the house. It also does not include fencing that is shared with a neighbor (that’s property fencing). By completely isolating the pool, 4‐Sided Isolation Fencing greatly reduces the amount of entry points to the pool area. No house doors, no house windows, and no neighbors’ yards. 4‐Sided Isolation Fencing is the only physical barrier that has been shown through research to reduce the risk of drowning and is recommended by the NDPA and CPSC as a Layer of Protection.
Property Fencing is the typical fence that is set along your property line. While Property Fencing will provide a deterrent for neighbors to get into your pool area, you as a pool owner have no control over access points in the neighbor’s yard. Objects in the neighbor’s yard next to the shared property fence can serve as an easy climbing mechanism for small children such as trees, shrubs, water features, furniture, or even playground equipment. Property Fencing should be maintained to limit access to your pool area but should not be relied on alone as your only barrier to your pool area.
FENCE MATERIALS & CONSTRUCTION
Pool fences can be constructed of many types of materials such as wood, wrought iron, block, rock, mesh, or chain‐link. No matter what the material, the fence must be constructed to meet local and national codes to be non‐climbable and minimize access under the fence in case of erosion (if constructed over grass or dirt).
National recommendations state that fencing must be at least 48 inches tall, but many local codes require that pool fencing be a minimum of 60 inches tall.
A 4 foot “clear zone” should be maintained around the pool fence (no furniture, shrubs, barbeque, etc.) as these can be easily used as a climbing mechanism for young children.
Gates are the weakest point in any fence. Pool owners should make sure all gates leading to the pool area are built according to best‐practice recommendations and are regularly maintained. All pool gates should open outward from the pool area. All pool gates should be self‐closing AND self‐latching. They should be checked each time they are used to make sure they are in proper working order.
A fence, even one that is properly constructed and maintained, is only a deterrent and supervision should be maintained at all times.
If you need a pool fence please contact Just Against Children Drowning Foundation or 941.626.7106
With all the many Layers of Protection in place, such as alarms, covers and fencing, our children can be safer than ever. However, there is yet another hazard, called Entrapment, which even direct supervision cannot prevent. This danger can cause serious injury and death to the most able and experienced swimmers.
FACTS ABOUT ENTRAPMENT
The issue of Entrapment received national attention in 2008 when federal legislation was passed to help prevent against entrapment injuries and deaths. The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act (P&SS Act), while providing legislation for public pools and spas, outlines recommendations for residential pools and spas as well.
Drain entrapments are frequently the result of a swimmer’s body, hair, limbs or clothing becoming entangled in a faulty or flat drain or grate.
WHAT POOL & SPA OWNERS NEED TO KNOW
The National Drowning Prevention Alliance and the CPSC recommend the following:
RESPONDING TO AN ENTRAPMENT EMERGENCY
More information, including videos and PSAs can be found on both the NDPA and CPSC website.