|THIS ONE WORKED - tests showed that the Poolguard PGRM-AG would sound an alarm if a small child fell in.
On average, more than 300 children under the age of 15 drown in swimming pools every year, according to federal data. Pool alarms are designed to raise an alert if people enter the water when they're not supposed to. But in our tests, only two of seven alarms worked well. Three were rated Not Acceptable.
How alarms work. Most use sensors to detect motion in the water. Some float; others attach to the pool's side. Some work with both in- and above-ground pools; others with one type. Under ASTM International's voluntary standards, an 85-plus-decibel alarm must sound poolside and in the house within 20 seconds when an 18-pound mannequin falls into the pool, and there must be no false alarms in a 15-mph wind or when a basketball plops into the pool.
CR's take. Choose one of the two Poolguards. The Pool S.O.S., PoolEye PE21, and Pool Patrol were Not Acceptable: They failed to sound an alarm within 20 seconds. The PoolEye PE13 isn't recommended because it sounded many false alarms. We also tested the Safety Turtle Standard System, a wrist sensor that sends an alarm when submerged, but it works only on the child wearing it and needs an additional receiver to sound off at both pool and house. Even effective alarms are no substitute for fencing a pool and latching doors and gates, says Julie Gilchrist, M.D., an epidemiologist at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.