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Pool and Pond Safety: Flotation Devices and Alarms

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 10 May 2013 | comments*Discuss
 
Pool Safety Flotation Devices Child

We've covered pool fencing and pool covers in an earlier article, so here we're taking a look at more safety devices that can help families, children in particular, to enjoy domestic pools in safety. These devices divide into two broad categories, flotation devices to support those who fall in a pool and alarms that will alert people to specific dangers. Two-thirds to three-quarters of all drowning incidents occur in domestic pools so it's worth taking steps to avoid danger.

Flotation Devices and Swimming Aids

Flotation devices are nothing new; simple ones such as armbands and rubber rings have been in use for decades. But these are considered swimming aids or toys and should not be relied on to keep a child afloat on their own. On the other hand it's probably a bit over the top to ask a child to wear a full life jacket in a domestic swimming pool. With adults who can't swim or are vulnerable in other ways it's life jackets or nothing, unfortunately.

Flotation suits are available for children and have fun designs, these suits aren't as cumbersome as a life jacket. They have foam supporting buoyancy pads sewn into the suits. As a lot of adults are nowadays dressing their children in all-over suits for sun protection there are also now similar suits with slots for removable floating pads.

Another useful variation on the rubber ring is a swim tube trainer. This is a rubber ring but with a tank top style upper section so that the child's body is held upright. This avoids the major disadvantages of rubber rings: the body can be held upside down or the ring ride up and fall off.

Swimming Pool Alarms

Protection alarms are an alternative or complementary option to flotation devices and there is an increasing range of alarms on the market aimed at domestic swimming pools. Gate and door alarms are a good idea, if someone goes into the pool area without anyone to supervise everyone will know about it before there's much chance of that person getting to the water.

A recent innovation in this sector is the ability to sound an alarm if a gate is not properly latched after someone has passed through it. This means that a gate can't be accidentally left open for a child to follow though later.

Pool Entry Alarms

There are two approaches to alerting others that someone or something has fallen into the water. The first is a personal alarm on a strap which links wirelessly to a base station. If the alarm gets wet the base station sounds the alarm, but make sure that the stated coverage of the alarm is big enough for the pool and the surrounding area. The alarms can be attached to anything or anyone considered vulnerable, adults, children or even pets.

A second category of alarm attaches to the edge of the pool and senses sudden surges in water height, something that would indicate an unexpected entry of something or someone into the pool. The alarms and sensor are in one unit so there's no wireless coverage to worry about. These can't effectively be used if there are a lot of people using the pool but they will alert you if a child or pet falls in when no-one is around.

Just One More Little Thing to Consider...

While we're on the subject there's one more safety aspect to consider when very small children are using pools. Fortunately enterprising companies have thought of the answer to this problem, which can affect the safety of all pool users if there is a mishap. A quick search on the internet for 'swim nappy' or 'swim diaper' should provide the answer.

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