The pool should be a place for family fun and relaxation, yet the sad fact is that every year far too many toddlers result in drowning due to the lack of appropriate safeguards. While parental responsibility is of course essential, it can take only moments of distraction for disaster to strike – so what are the best pool safety devices for families with toddlers?
Fence The Pool In
This should be obvious for all families but is worth reiterating at the top of this article as a responsible reminder. Ensure that the pool is entirely surrounded by a sturdy modern pool fence, but be aware that these can obstruct field of vision for supervisory adults and have been known to be breached. Pool fences should have self-closing doors and allow no room for a toddler to squeeze underneath, while also being no less than four feet high. Ideally they should not be considered a solution in their own right, merely a first line of defense.
Pool Safety Nets
Similar to standing pool fences these alone aren’t enough, and serve merely as an added layer of insurance. Safety nets roll tightly over the surface of the pool and are strong and taught enough to prevent the toddler from falling through and into the water, or being submerged by it’s own weight.
A responsive aid but potentially also a life saving one, alarms ought to be fitted around any domestic pool and should be routinely checked. The two most common are:
Gate alarms are the most common, cheapest and easiest to install, featuring two magnetic clamps that sound an alarm when the connection is broken. Designed mainly for outdoor use, people with indoor pools can find similar alarms that are attachable to doors adjoining the pool area. There are usually override buttons that can only be reached by an adult.
Perimeter alarms rely on infrared beams relayed by poles that surround the pool. They are adjustable to the height of the toddler and when broken they will sound an alert to nearby adults. Advantages are that they are discreet and an ‘always on’ solution, disadvantages are that they require the beams to be appropriate for the particular child – smaller visiting children for example may be able to crawl under.
These have become popular lately and rely on a secure wristband fitted to the child’s arm that sounds an alarm via a mother hub when submerged in water. These are useful yet should not take precedence over preventing the child being able to physically enter the water.
Mounted Motion Detectors (Pool or Wall)
Clipping onto the pool wall, these devices use a infra red beam to cover the possible angles of approach to the pool, detecting motion and heat. Battery operated and allowing adults one minute to remove themselves from the area they are covering, these are excellent for detecting toddlers before they get too close to the pool and will sound alarms both at the pool and within the home. Increasingly inexpensive these are an excellent option for families who regularly use their outdoors and have explore-minded toddlers.
Should a toddler enter the pool their body weight and the disruption it causes to the ambient water within the pool will be detected and sound an alarm. Like all of the above technologies, these alarms are best used in combination with other forms of protection and as a ‘last chance’ warning mechanism.