Every year more than 500 children drown in the U.S. and another 2500 incur serious injuries due to near-drowning incidents. According to a fact sheet on unintentional drowning from the CDC, an average of 2 children under the age of 14 drown per day.
Statistics from the World Health Organization state that there are more than 370,000 deaths caused by unintentional drowning each year worldwide, with the highest risk groups being children aged 1-4 and the second-highest risk group being children 5-9. Pet owners face the same concern, with an estimated 5,000 pets drowning in residential swimming pools each year.
Reviewing the Best Pool Alarms and Gate Alarms
Here are the top-rated pool alarms on the market:
In-pool Surface and Subsurface Alarms
Since some subsurface models are capable of surface wave detection as well, it makes sense to bunch these two alarm types into one group. Brands like PoolGuard have proven their ability to make premium alarms that are consistently rated highly.
Here are the top contenders in this category:
|product||PoolGuard PGRM-SB Safety Buoy Above Ground Pool Alarm||PoolGuard PGRM-2 In-Ground Pool Alarm||Pool Alarm Electronic Monitoring System|
|bottom line||Good for people who have above ground pools and don’t want to go through the hassle of installing a mounted poolside alarm.||Combination of accuracy, ease-of-use, and quick installation/removal.||Perfect choice for those who want to be in full control of their alarm.|
|link to shop||Go to store||Go to store||Go to store|
Detailed reviews continue below:
Best Budget Option PoolGuard PGRM-SB Safety Buoy Above Ground Pool Alarm
The PoolGuard PGRM-SB Safety Buoy is an above ground pool alarm that floats on the surface of the water and uses a submerged detection unit equipped with unique sub surface sensing technology. It includes an in-house remote receiver and runs on one 9-volt battery.
While most pool alarms are situated along the edge of the pool, this one floats around freely and is therefore more sensitive to water movement due to waves. The sub surface detection method also ensures that fewer false alarms are triggered because it won’t sound unless something actually enters the water.
Reviews for this product are of the “hate it or love it” variety, with about 25% of reviewers rating it 5-stars while 32% gave it 1-star. Most tend to agree that the lack of installation is a great advantage, but there are also quite a few who aren’t pleased with the difficulty of disabling the alarm once it is triggered.
- Manufactured in the U.S.A.
- Includes 1-year warranty
- False alarms are rare.
- Minimal design and no installation required
- Cone is made of plastic, so long-term durability and aesthetics aren’t the best.
- Difficult to turn off the alarm once it is triggered. You have to hold a magnetic key to the front of the cone to disable the alarm and it may take a few tries while the alarm is making tons of noise.
Editor’s Pick PoolGuard PGRM-2 In-Ground Pool Alarm
The PoolGuard PGRM-2 is an in-ground surface pool alarm with an in-house receiver and a 12v battery supply. It’s tamper-proof, so once installed only an adult can remove it from the pool and put it into sleep mode.
Unlike most competitors who only provide a 1-year warranty, this one comes with a 3-year warranty. It also utilizes proprietary sensing technology that reduces the likelihood of false alarms. The unit’s unique shape facilitates quick and easy installation and removal, especially when compared to other models that float around the pool and can be a hassle to retrieve.
A number of reviews suggest that the PGRM-2 is incredibly accurate, with several people reporting no false alarms even after months of use and repeated exposure to stormy weather. Users note that the alarm goes off when a ripple comes within a certain distance of the sensor, so something falling into the water across the pool might trigger the alarm in around 10 seconds, while something entering the water closer to the sensor would trigger the sound within 3-5 seconds. The only other concern seems to be that the instructions for disarming and removing the alarm are somewhat vague. FYI: to disarm it, you press a button on the back and it gives you about 5 seconds to set the unit aside.
- Sensor unit can transmit alarm to in-house receiver up to 200 feet away.
- Known for not giving off false alarms.
- Battery lasts 1 year.
- Backed by 3-year warranty.
- Made in the USA
- If something falls in the pool far away from the sensor, it can take a little while for the alarm to go off.
- Poor instructions according to customer reviews.
If Money Isn’t an Issue Pool Alarm Electronic Monitoring System
The Pool Alarm Electronic Monitoring System is a subsurface pool alarm designed for use with in-ground pools. The included receiver has a range of up to 300 feet and comes with a 12-volt power supply. The alarm makes use of six batteries that are not included in the package.
This particular model is very simple to install and use. You can switch it on as soon as you are done swimming using the control button. The 100 dB is quite a sound that will certainly provoke an action.
Reviews for this model are mostly positive. As many as 56 % of reviewers gave the product 4 or 5 stars. The buyers appraise the loudness of the alarm, its simple installation and operation. Several costumers criticized false alarms and the fact that it is not usable with above-ground pools.
- Loudness of the sound
- Small probability of false alarms
- Fast to install and manipulate
- Greater dimensions
- Cheap material used
Pool Door, Gate, and Window Alarms
To ensure the utmost safety it’s a good idea to equip the area with alarms on any doors, gates, or windows that lead directly to the pool.
With that said, here are the best alarms for securing the perimeter of your pool area:
|product||Smartpool YG03 YardGard Gate/Door/Window Alarm||PoolGuard GAPT-2 Outdoor Pool Gate Alarm||PoolGuard DAPT-WT Immediate Pool Alarm|
|bottom line||Inexpensive way to put exit alarms on multiple gates, doors, and windows.||Great choice for anyone who is tired of having to completely disable or remove the alarm from their gate every time they have a cookout.||Ideal option for a family that needs the assurance of knowing as soon as someone has entered the pool area.|
|link to shop||Go to store||Go to store||Go to store|
Best Budget Option Smartpool YG03 YardGard Gate/Door/Window Alarm
The Smartpool TG03 YardGard Gate/Door/Window Alarm is a cheaper option that carries several features normally seen in higher priced products, such as a 120 dB siren alarm and always on functionality as required by current Barrier Codes. It’s water-resistant and operates using one 9-volt battery.
The loudness of the siren is definitely this alarm’s strong point. In fact, it would be difficult to find an alternative as loud as this in the same price range. It can also automatically reset itself after 3 minutes or you can use the bypass/reset button to do it manually.
Reviews are almost an even split between negative and positive, with the crowd leaning slightly in favor of this cheap but effective option. About 53% gave it a 4 or 5 star rating, while 38% gave it a 1 or 2 star rating. Some reviewers complain that the alarm sound is excessively loud and the instructions are poorly written. On the other hand, others are glad that it’s loud and claim that the 7 second delay is fast enough to trigger the alarm before a person has walked a few feet beyond the doorway.
- Can be mounted on wooden and metal gates, doors, and windows.
- Automatic low battery warning chirp
- Adult pass-through button
- Meets or exceeds all current Barrier Codes and Residential Pool Safety Requirements
- Some people consider a 120 dB alarm to be too loud for comfort. Several reviewers have said it hurts your ears to stand close to it while disarming it.
Editor’s Pick PoolGuard GAPT-2 Outdoor Pool Gate Alarm
The PoolGuard GAPT-2 is designed to be used on outdoor pool gates, emitting a loud horn alarm within 7 seconds of the gate being opened. If an adult passes through and can close the gate and press the “Pass Thru” button before then, the alarm will not sound. The package comes with 6 feet of UL-approved wire, a sensor switch, and a magnet used to secure the sensor to the gate.
The bypass and delay functions included with this gate alarm are what make it preferable over most of its competitors. It’s by far the easiest for adults to use without triggering the alarm.
Reviews for this product are highly positive, with about 86% of reviewers rating it at 4 or 5 stars. There are only a couple of reviewers who rated it lowly because they were annoyed by having to press the bypass button every time, but that’s a feature that should be expected on any good gate alarm.
- Low battery indicator will alert you before the battery level starts affecting the loudness of the horn.
- Includes 1-year warranty
- Has an adult pass-through feature that makes it easy to avoid false alarms.
- Sounds after 7 seconds of the gate being left opened, thus ensuring that someone can’t leave your gate open for pets or children to enter the pool area.
- Battery not included
If Money Isn’t an Issue PoolGuard DAPT-WT Immediate Pool Alarm
As the name suggest, the PoolGuard DAPT-WT Immediate Pool Alarm is designed to go off immediately as soon as someone passes through the door. It includes everything needed to install an alarm on one door leading to the pool.
What sets this model apart from the rest is its ability to trigger an alarm the moment the door is opened. Most other models have a delay that gives the person opening the door time to disable the alarm before it sounds. While those are great for avoiding false alarms, they leave open the possibility of a child walking out of the doorway and into the pool before the alarm even goes off. An immediate door alarm is therefore the safest possible option.
The reviews for this product are perhaps the most positive out of any product on the list, with about 68% of reviewers rating it 4 or 5 stars. In contrast only 29% have rated it at 3 stars or lower. Positive reviews tend to focus on the advantages of having an immediate alarm, the ease of using the adult pass/disable alarm button, and the reliability of the device. The few negative reviews complained about problems with the reliability and functionality of individual units, with several disgruntled users reporting malfunctions.
- Optional screen door kits are available. Useful for getting air in through your screen door without setting off the alarm.
- Disable buttons make it easy for adults to pass in and out without triggering the alarm.
- Battery life only lasts about 6 months using a 9-volt and the battery is not included. Most other pool alarms claim a battery life of one year.
- Some users have complained that the device stopped working for them after a short period of time.
Some worthy alternatives:
The YG18 Programmable Gate/Door/Window Alarm from SmartPool is a well-rounded pool security and safety system that includes everything needed to mount an alarm on a single door, gate, or window. The exterior is water resistant and the alarm is known for being one of the loudest on the market.
One feature that you’ll find in the YG18 that you won’t see in many other competitors is a programmable keypad that can be used to set an optional 4-digit PIN code for deactivating the alarm. Of course, this feature helps the unit double as a security device, ensuring that unauthorized adults don’t take advantage of the device’s adult pass-through feature.
Reviews are mostly positive with about 63% of reviewers rating it at 5-stars. However, there are a few reviewers complaining about the batteries getting hot, occasional malfunctions, and the difficulty of adjusting delay settings.
- Incredibly loud alarm 120 dB – 95 dB at a distance of 10 feet.
- Convenient adult pass-through feature allows you to choose between 7 or 15 second delay period before the alarm is triggered. During that time, you can press the pass-through button or enter the PIN code – if you’ve programmed one — in order to prevent the alarm from going off.
- Simple installation.
- Chirps when batteries are low.
- Requires 6 AA batteries for operation and you have to unscrew 5 tiny screws just to replace the batteries. A small screwdriver is needed but not included.
- The switches for choosing between 7 or 15-second delay are located within the battery compartment, so you also have to unscrew it to change this setting.
- Will not work on chain link fences or other gates where the gap between the fence post and gate rail is greater than ½ inch.
- Some users have complained about the units overheating and shutting off after prolonged use.
The Techko S189A Ultra Slim Pool Safety and Entry Alarm is a multipurpose exit alarm that can be mounted on a gate or door. It has an an adult bypass button that allows you to prevent the alarm from going off, but if you don’t press that button before exiting it will sound a 110 dB alarm continuously until the button is pressed.
This model meets current UL standards and is ETL-listed. Unlike many models that allow for a delay of 7 or more seconds before sounding the alarm, the Techko S187 triggers immediately as soon as the magnetic link between the latch and the sensor is broken.
This is a hugely popular crowd favorite with plenty of reviews and a predominantly positive response. About 80% of reviewers rated it at 4 or 5 stars. Only 15% gave it a 1-star rating. The sparsely distributed complaints are mostly related to the odd malfunction or defective unit, while the rest of the mostly positive reviews center around the loudness of the alarm, ease of installation, and how great it is to get a pair of sensors and a pair of bypass buttons at one relatively low price.
- Simple to assemble and mount on a gate or door
- Water-resistant and durable enough to stay up in tough weather
- Alarm is triggered instantly – no delay period.
- Older kids can easily figure out the one-click bypass button, so it’s important to keep that feature a secret from the little ones so they don’t catch on.
- A 110 dB noise that comes out of this is not something you want to experience often, so it’s a good idea to take steps to prevent false alarms if you want to avoid being severely annoyed.
Wristband alarms are excellent accessories to throw into your pool safety arsenal. If all else fails, your child’s wristband will sound an alarm on an in-home receiver if it is ever submerged for more than a couple seconds. On top of that, because these are independent of your own yard and pool, you can also use them when near lakes, ponds, reservoirs or rivers.
Here are the two best wristband pool alarms currently on the market:
The Safety Turtle 2.0 Child Immersion Alarm Kit is designed to serve as a fail-proof way of knowing when your child enters any body of water. It comes with one wristband and an in-house receiver that can be heard clearly both indoors and outside.
This particular wristband kit is marked by its green turtle design that stays true to the Safety Turtle image. The plug-and-go functionality also makes it easy to use out-of-the-box, whereas many other models require a basic level of programming or setting adjustments.
Reviews are mostly positive, with about 51% of reviewers rating it at 4 or 5 stars. There have been a few complaints about the durability of the wristband itself. Some noted that the alarm wasn’t as loud as some of the surface and subsurface alarm options out there.
- No programming or setting adjustments necessary
- Kid-friendly design ensures your little ones won’t want to take it off
- Multiple wristbands can be linked to one receiver station
- Not backwards compatible with the old Safety Turtle B102 in-house stations
- Some have complained that smaller children can remove the wristbands easily
Pool Alarms That Shouldn’t Even Be Considered
All of the above products meet the ASTM F2208 Standard Safety Specifications for Residential Pool Alarms and are therefore worthy of being considered the best on the market. Unfortunately, not all pool alarms passed the test, and some have flaws that make them ineligible for the above list.
Here are a few popular pool alarms that we can’t recommend based on reviews, complaints, and safety tests conducted by GoodHousekeeping (GH):
- Techko SO87 – Although inexpensive and appealing at first glance, this one is notoriously difficult to install. So even though it passed the GH safety test, it can’t be recommended due to this unavoidable caveat.
- Blue Wave NA4212 Poolwatch Pool Alarm System – with nearly 50% of reviewers rating this at 1 star, it didn’t seem right to recommend it. There are a number of complaints about the alarm failing to activate even when an adult enters the pool.
- Doberman Security Pool Alert – At less than $20 it is to be expected that this one wouldn’t be the most reliable pool alarm out there. About 65% of reviewers have rated it 1-3 stars.
- SmartPool PE22 – Failed GH safety test.
- Pool Patrol PA-30 Pool Alarm – Failed GH safety test.
- Allweather Pool S.O.S. – Failed GH safety test.
Although the above models may be popular sellers, we can’t rightfully include them on a list of what is supposed to contain only the best pool alarms.
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Types of Pool Alarms and How They Work
Of all the recommended pool safety measures, alarms are perhaps the most reliable and useful. Fences can be left open inadvertently and children can also climb over or circumvent them, and a sign won’t always deter a little one who can’t yet read. On the other hand, a properly installed alarm is nearly guaranteed to notify you whenever someone approaches or enters your pool.
It’s important to become familiar with the various types of devices that can be used to secure a pool area in order to develop a well-balanced approach to pool safety. There are 4 main types of pool alarms to consider:
Although using all of the above alarm types might give you an occasional false alarm, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Plus, there are options in each category ranging in cost from $20 to $200+, so starting with a basic level of pool safety is doable even on a tight budget.
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Unintentional Drowning is a Public Health Concern
In fact, drowning is the 2nd leading cause of death related to unintentional injury in the U.S, and it ranks as one of the top 5 causes of death for people under age 14 in nearly 50 countries. Sadly, many of these tragedies could’ve easily been prevented if the parent or caretaker of the child/pet had taken a few simple precautions.
To reduce the frequency of accidental drowning, the government has even launched a public education campaign called Pool Safely – an initiative that teaches guardians how to prevent unintentional drowning. As you can see for yourself in the video below, one of their 7 seven safety tips is to “install proper barriers, covers, and alarms on and around the pool.” Interestingly, the alarm used in the video is the PGRM-2 by PoolGuard, the alarm we awarded the “Editor’s Choice” badge in the review section.
According to an evaluation of swimming pool alarms conducted by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), children and pets should always be supervised, and pool owners should utilize fencing, covers, and other components to ensure complete safety at all times.
Be sure to also check out our article on Pool Covers explaining which covers qualify as Safety Pool Covers.
Pool Safety Measures Required By Law in Many States
In response to the above statistics, many states have passed legislation requiring that certain safety measures be taken by residential pool owners. For example, in California the Swimming Pool Safety Act requires that the pool be enclosed and that exit alarms be placed on all doors and windows that provide direct access to the pool.
Florida has similar statues in place with their Residential Pool Safety Act, as do many other states. Although the laws vary by state, generally the requirements involve surrounding the pool with an enclosure at least 4 feet high and using alarms to secure the area.
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Realizing the Importance of Choosing the Right Pool Safety Equipment
In the end, we can all admit that our children and furry friends are too precious to put at risk over a rushed or uninformed buying decision, so it makes sense to do your research before choosing pool alarms and safety equipment. After all, this is a crucial investment that provides both security and peace of mind in exchange for a one-time expense, giving you the freedom to relax knowing that your kids and pets are always safe from entering the pool unnoticed.