Swimming Pool Alarms: a Buyer’s Guide

Mother runs toward child by pool“Drowning is Silent”… Pool alarms make a loud commotion when someone or something has fallen in the pool.

There are many types of pool alarms that will sound the alert. Here are some details about a few different pool alarms and hopefully help you decide which one is right for your situation.

While a swimming pool alarm is a necessary element for pool safety, it is important to understand that it should be considered the last line of defense; pool alarms are not a stand-alone pool safety tool.

Every pool should have a safety system in place, which should include physical barriers, such as non-climbable fences with self-latching gates, a safety cover or automatic cover, or other means of blocking unauthorized access to the pool.

And of course, the cornerstone to any pool safety system is proper adult supervision.  For more information regarding the best options for creating a safety system, visit the poolsafely.gov Pool Safety Systems page.

Pool Entry Alarms vs. User Entry Alarms

A pool entry detection alarm is designed to sound an alarm when someone or something enters the pool. They utilize subsurface wave detection technology that is able to detect waves or movement in the water when a child or an object of a minimum specified weight falls in to the pool. Here a few examples of pool entry alarms:

PoolEye PE20

PoolEye PE-20 Pool Alarm

PoolEye PE-20 Alarm

Has a sensor that is placed below the water surface. Includes stainless steel mounting system so you can mount the unit to the deck or ladder.
Recommended for in ground pools up to 18×36 ft.  Larger pools will require multiple units.
Alarm sounds when objects weighing 15 lbs. or more fall in to the pool.  The sensitivity is adjustable if you’d prefer the alarm sound only for heavier weights.
– 120 decibel alarm siren, 95 decibel at 10ft. away.
– Operates on one 9 Volt battery and 1 AA battery.


Poolguard Pool alarm

PoolGuard Pool alarm

– Sits on pool deck and extends beneath the water surface.
– Recommended for inground pools to 20×40 ft.
– Alarm sounds when objects weighing 18 lbs. or more fall in to the pool.
– 85 decibel alarm from 10 feet away.
– Operates on a 9-volt battery, with a battery life of approximately one year. Low battery indicator.

PoolEye PE 13

PoolEye PE-13 pool alarm

PoolEye PE-13 alarm

– Sensor mounts under pool rail, siren mounts on top of rail.  Includes pool-side and in-home remote alarm – up to 100 ft. away.
– Recommended for above ground pools up to 24 ft. round or 16×32 ft. oval.
– Alarm sounds when objects weighing 15 lbs. or more fall in to the pool.
– 120 decibel alarm siren, 95 decibel at 10 feet.
– Operates on one 9-volt battery.
– Automatically checks for low battery and chirps every 60 seconds.

PoolGuard Safety Buoy

Poolguard Safety Buoy

PoolGuard Safety Buoy

– Designed to be used in any above ground pool including quick set, soft sided, and portable above ground pools as well as spas and some small in-ground pools.
– Floats on the water.  Recommended for pools up to 24 ft. round or 16 x 32 ft. rectangle.
– Alarm sounds when objects weighing 18 lbs. or more fall in to the pool.
– Features in house remote receiver which works up to 200 ft. away.

A user entry alarm has sensor that is designed to be worn by the user combined with a base station which sounds an alarm if the sensor comes in contact with water. This type of alarm allows you to protect specific individuals. So you could have only the small children in your house wearing the sensor, or perhaps your pets. This type of alarm can be used on in ground or above ground pools or anywhere there’s water.

Safety Turtle

Safety Turtle pool wristband alarms

Safety Turtle

– Turtle Wrist band locks securely around a child’s wrist, using the key provided.
– A loud alarm will sound at the remote base station when your child’s wrist band is immersed in water (even briefly) and will not stop until it is physically reset.
– Alarm is portable and could be used near lakes, a spa, or any other pool.
– Base station can be plugged in up to 100 feet from your pool.
– System can be expanded by purchasing additional wrist bands.


Gate Alarms

Gate alarms are designed to be used where you have a fence and gate surrounding the entire perimeter of the pool. This alarm will sound when the gate is opened to alert you that someone has accessed the pool area. If you have a large fence with many gates, it would be safer to padlock the gates that are not used regularly.

PoolGuard Gate Alarm

PoolGuard Gate Alarm

PoolGuard Gate Alarm

– Can be used on any gate, outside door or screen giving access to your pool.
– Alarm sounds in 7 seconds if a child opens the gate, even if they close the gate.
– Equipped with an adult pass through feature that allows adults to go through the gate without the alarm sounding.
– Powered by one 9 volt battery which lasts approximately one year. Low Battery Indicator.
– Includes 6 feet of UL approved wire, and sensor switch and magnet for attaching to your gate.

So, Which Pool Alarm is Best?

These are just a few specific models of swimming pool alarms, there are many different manufacturers and models on the market. While it would be a good idea to check ratings and reviews of any alarms you are interested in, or check the CPSC’s Evaluation of Swimming Pool Alarms – it is unlikely that there is one “best” alarm for all situations.

Specific conditions around your pool area may dictate which type of alarm is right for you. For example, if you have very close neighbors with many small children in the area, a pool entry alarm may be a better choice over the user entry alarm. The user entry alarm will only sound when a child wearing the wristband enters the pool, leaving any other children unprotected.

Or perhaps you are in the opposite situation, living in an open area with no close neighbor children. A user entry alarm like the Safety Turtle may be the best way to protect your immediate family, while also reducing false alarms. A user entry alarm is also a good choice for those who are trying to protect small pets that are under the minimum weight requirement of the displacement sensing type of pool alarms.

Any pool with a fence and gate surrounding it can use a gate alarm. Having multiple layers of protection will keep your pool as safe as possible. Interior fences or barriers to entry are a good idea, as long as they don’t block the view of the pool.

Double up! Having both a gate alarm and a pool alarm will give you more time to get to the pool area to prevent an accident since the gate alarm sounds when the perimeter has been accessed.

Even if you have multiple alarms and layers of protection in place, if your child is ever missing, check the pool area first.

If you have further concerns about pool and swimming safety, visit poolsafely.gov for lots of comprehensive tips. And as always, feel free to give us a call at 1-800-288-7946 with any questions regarding pool alarms or ways to improve the layers of protection around your pool.

Have a safe summer!

Jackie Wolski
InTheSwim Staff Blogger

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