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Swimming Pool Alarms

An increasing number of localities are requiring swimming pool alarms for homeowners with either above or in-ground pools. Each year more than 350 children are victims of drowning, and another 2,600 head to the emergency room because of near-drowning accidents.

Pool alarms come in different styles and work by sensing some combination of water presence or movement (waves):

  • Floating alarms: alert when someone falling in causes the alarm, which floats on the surface of the pool, to sway side to side. This style can give a false alarm if it or the water is blown in windy weather; it can fail to sound if the child or animal fails to make a sufficient wake when entering the pool.
  • Underwater alarms: alerts when it senses waves underwater. Tend to perform very well in government tests, but does not detect all pool entries.
  • Personal alarms: typically a wristband alarm worn by a child that alerts when it gets wet. Does not sense the presence of anyone not wearing a wristband and may also be activated by other water sources (such as washing hands).

While these alarms can save lives, they should
never be relied upon as the sole defense against drowning since they provide an alert rather than prevention. Pool owners should erect proper fencing, keep gates locked, supervise small children and animals in the pool vicinity, and keep floatation devices nearby. Pool covers are also helpful, and can be used in conjunction with underwater alarms.

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