In today’s guide you’re going to learn why you NEED to have a pool alarm installed in your pool and the peace of mind it can bring you.
Simply put, a pool alarm can help keep your family safe …
Need anymore convincing than that?
We’re also going to go over whether pool safety alarms are required by law, the different types available, and the best pool alarm systems you can buy today.
Ready to dive in?
Are pool alarms required by law?
According to SafeKids, almost 800 children drown each year, and half of those are under the age of 5.
For this reason, more and more states are requiring pool alarms on all residential swimming pools without automatic covers. Among those are Connecticut, New York, Tennessee and California.
In 2011, Tennessee passed their pool alarm law, called “Katie Beth’s Law,” after the tragic drowning of a state senator’s great-granddaughter, Katie Beth Burk.
The law requires that a pool alarm be installed on any pool and spa deeper than 36” and that it be able to sense any object 15 lbs. or larger falling into the water.
- Read: Check out our guide to swimming pool safety
Pool owners are also required to post signs that read: “State Law Requires a Pool Alarm to Be Installed.” The law applies to all residential pools and hot tubs.
The type of alarm you ultimately purchase will really just depend on what your needs are.
Some pool-owners decide to invest in more than one, such as a gate and a wristband model for extra precaution.
There are a lot of different types to choose from and the comparisons can get confusing, but they all basically fall within three categories:
1. Pool entry
Pool entry alarms sound when someone or something enters the pool and fall into two categories themselves:
- Surface Sensor. These types float on the pool water and sense movement in the event that anything falls into the pool. A good surface wave sensor alarm can be adjusted for sensitivity so that it’s not being sounded every time a leaf falls in. Some can be adjusted, for example, when anything larger than 15 pounds disturbs the water, as required by Tennessee law.
- Sub-Surface. These types are activated by pressure changes below the surface caused by motion-activated waves. They are mounted to the wall under water and use magnetic sensors. In a study done by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), these were found to be the most consistently reliable types of pool alarms.
- Pros: reliably detect motion in the water
- Cons: aren’t activated until a child or pet actually falls into the pool; more sensitive models can sound when light debris or wind moves the water
2. User-entry (wristband)
User-entry models are placed on a child’s wrist and locked with a key, and they sound when the child gets the wristband wet, sending you an audible alert when they’ve entered a body of water.
It’s important to know that in states where pool alarms are legally required, wristband models do not meet those requirements.
- Pros: can equip only those not allowed to enter the pool alone so that adults don’t accidentally set off the alarms; portable so you can protect your kids from dangerous water even while on vacation
- Cons: can cause false alarms since it sounds any time it gets wet; provides no warning if the child isn’t wearing it
3. Gate alarms
Pool gate alarms attach to the gates and typically use magnetic sensors to alert you when the gate is open.
- Pros: don’t have to be deactivated while swimming like surface and sub-surface alarms; alert you before someone is in the pool area, giving you more time to react
- Cons: if gate is accidentally left open, there’s no way to be alerted if someone enters; if a sneaky neighbor climbs the fence, you’ll probably never know
Features to look for
Since there are a variety of pool alarms available, there are a few different things you will need to consider when choosing one:
Would you rather have an alarm installed at your gate or at your pool or both?
If you install a gate model, you may be alerted before a child enters the pool area rather than after they’ve fallen in, however, if someone accidentally leaves it open, they’re still at risk.
You may instead choose a brand that will alert you when something falls in, but they can be more costly than gate units and cause some false alarms.
Another option is to install both a gate and a pool alarm. This could be a wise choice for your family if you have small children or pets you would like to keep safe.
If price is a factor you have to consider, often a gate alarm is the least expensive choice.
However, all options should be considered carefully to make the safest decision.
The quality of the sensors varies greatly and what you choose will depend on the type of technology you’d like to have.
For example, some types can be adjusted so that they only detect anything falling in that weighs over a certain amount, while others will sound with light debris.
The better the technology, the more control you will have over the sensor.
In case you still need help deciding, we’ve put together a list of our choices below.
These are the units we recommend, but always do your research and find out which features work best for you.
Best pool entry
This submersible in-ground model from Poolguard (click here to check the price on Amazon) is easy to set up and use. You simply set it on the side of your pool, submersing the sensored end in the water. That’s it!
It turns itself on when in the pool and you simply remove it and turn it off when you want to swim.
It’s also reasonably priced, making it a top choice for pool owners who need a reliable system.
A lot of pool owners say they don’t have trouble with false alarms and they like the security of a reliable alert.
If you need one without a complicated set-up, this could be the one for you.
This floating Poolguard alarm (click here to check the price on Amazon) is made to use in any above ground pool and is the only floating model that is NSF certified to the ASTM F2208 pool alarm standard.
The greatest thing about this unit is how loud it is.
If a child falls into the pool while it is activated, anyone within a block-wide radius should be able to hear it and respond to a potentially dangerous situation.
It’s also extremely easy to set up and use, making it a great choice for anyone who would rather not deal with complicated installation.
The Pool Patrol PA-30 (click here to check the price on Amazon) is designed to use with both in-ground and above-ground pools.
This alarm floats on the pool’s surface and is activated someone or something falls in that causes a wave.
The great thing about the Pool Patrol is that it can be adjusted for sensitivity so that it only activates when something the size of a child or pet fall in.
It’s also convenient and easy to use and comes with an indoor unit that sounds along with the outdoor unit.
This pool alarm from Blue Wave (click here to check the price on Amazon) is designed to work with both in-ground and above-ground pools and is NSF certified.
It has a remote receiver that sounds with the pool alarm up to 100 feet and detects objects that fall into the pool over 18 lbs.
The Poolwatch is battery powered and installs on the edge of your pool or deck.
It’s a hassle-free and moderately priced alarm for added peace of mind for your pool.
Best door & gate
These alarms by iSmartAlarm (click here to check the price on Amazon) are designed to connect to your smart phone or device and send alerts right to it whenever they are triggered by someone opening a door or gate.
You can conveniently order them in two-packs to guard all the entries to your pool. They’re wireless, moveable and easy to use.
Customers love that they can also be linked to the company’s iCamera system for added visibility.
It’s also extremely affordable and small so it can be installed anywhere and everywhere your children or pets might need to be monitored.
The Techko Safe Pool (click here to check the price on Amazon) is designed to protect your doors, windows or entryways with a 110 decibel alarm that sounds when they are tampered with.
It is easy to use and one of the more affordable options on our list, making it a top pick for budget-minded pool owners. It also meets the UL standard for the Child Pool Safety Law.
The unique thing about this device is that it comes with two sensors so that one can be installed on your door and one on your screen door or glass door if that’s where you choose to install them.
It also features a bypass button you need to press before entering so the alarm doesn’t go off.
This pool door alarm from PoolGuard (click here to check the price on Amazon) can be installed on gates and doors and will sound at 80 decibels in 7 seconds when someone opens the door.
It does have an adult deactivate feature to turn the alarm off briefly to open the door. It is battery operated (9-volt battery) and super inexpensive for the budget-conscious pool owner.
Customers say they like it because it is lightweight, compact, features an alert indicating low battery, and annoyingly loud when it needs to be.
Install these on all your doors and pool gates to keep your loved ones safe.
The super affordable Smartpool YardGard alarm (click here to check the price on Amazon) is an always-on unit that passes all state and barrier code inspections.
It sounds instantly at a loud 120 decibels when someone opens an entryway where it’s installed.
It’s affordability, ease of use and compact size make it a great choice for the pool-owner who wants to install alarms at multiple entries.
Customers like it because it meets even the strictest pool inspection requirements and gives them added peace of mind.
Best user entry
What child wouldn’t love wearing this cute little turtle bracelet on their arm!
The Safety Turtle (click here to check the price on Amazon) is new to the swimming pool alarm market but earns our respect because of its great technology that allows you to connect multiple bands to the system, as well as its loud alarm.
This means you can pick up bands for your kids, your pets and a couple extra for young visitors who might wander off.
They are lightweight and require no programming so you can just buckle them on and go.
They are also impossible for a child to remove without the key so you can rest assured they won’t be squirming out of it.
The My Buddy Tag (click here to check the price on Amazon) is a cheaper option for a wristband alarm, but still very effective and technology-friendly.
This band connects to a smartphone app you download on your phone to alert you whenever your child wanders out of the range you set.
It comes in a variety of fun kid-friendly colors and the design is less bulky than some of the other user-entry alarms.
Parents love these for traveling because they don’t require a base unit to work and the kids don’t mind wearing them.
Pool alarms are an important and sometimes legally required part of pool safety, but please remember that no alarm should ever replace adult supervision.
Use them for added peace of mind and an extra layer of protection around water, but keep the little ones close by at all times.
Hi, I’m Matt Harper, the founder of poolcareguy.com, a site I started with one simple mission: to help people around the world clean and take care of their pools and hot tubs on their own, without the hassle.
I’m not a professional pool cleaner and don’t have any formal training, I’m just an average guy who loves hanging out by his pool and hot tub and taking care of it. After many years on the job, I’ve become quite good at it.
On this website I will be teaching you absolutely everything I know about pools and hot tubs.