Ask the General: What’s New in Pool Safety

Dear General, 

At home I’m chief cook and bottle washer (and the only one to blame if anything goes wrong), so I take responsibility for my pool quite seriously. That said, is there anything new I should know about regarding pool safety?

Single in Dublin, Ohio

inground fiberglass pools


Hello Single in Dublin,

I like that you used the word ‘responsibility,’ because that word points in a direct line to the second part of your question which is the absolute first priority of every pool owner—pool safety! In the past, we have discussed features like automatic safety covers, pool alarms, safety wristwatches, lifejackets, fences, door locks, gate locks and the importance of adult supervision. To me, the most exciting new thing is security cameras.

You might be asking yourself, “Security cameras? New?” Yes, I should qualify that answer by clarifying that there are some great new advances in security cameras. Today’s security camera is not yesterday’s security camera. For one thing, they are much more affordable. Secondly, there is more selection and tiered choice. And lastly, I think the new generation of cameras provide a better image than models that pre-date the boom in web-enabled cameras.

If you’ve used a doorbell system like Ring, you’ve got an idea of what I’m talking about. This generation of security camera is all the things listed above, plus easier to use and  access, whether that’s through a smartphone, an Amazon Echo Show, or another smart home device. If you travel for work, spend time away from home, or find yourself in other parts of the house where the backyard isn’t immediately accessible, it’s nice to know what’s going on out there when the pool is not in use. I mentioned choice. You’ll need to educate yourself on which one to buy. Talk to your dealer or find a helpful consumer site like CNET or Wirecutter to see what’s out there. You might find one that works well with your existing smart home appliance or phone. I mentioned ease of use. There’s a small learning curve there as well – some of that you sort out in what you choose and some of it you sort out when you have the product in hand and do some home trials.

Most of these cameras come with instructions and an app that operates through your wifi. And most have support agents and instructional videos for additional help should you need it. There may also be a subscription to the manufacturer’s cloud service. This is often optional. As you consider setup, you’ll want to identify the type of power source and preferred location of your cameras. Power options include solar, battery or plug-in electrical. 

Having decided your power source, there might be a period where you work on the placement and sensitivity settings of your camera. At first, your camera may alert you to everything in its view, including bugs, falling leaves or even shadows. If you’re primarily worried about four-legged critters or ducks visiting your pool for instance, just dial back the sensitivity a bit and try it out until satisfied.  

You might think of the backyard pool safety camera as a “baby monitor” for the pool. I think that’s an accurate thought in a sense. I certainly love to baby my pool! Please remember this … Safety is #1. These cameras are a tool for pool owners, but we can never substitute a camera, no matter how technically sound, for adult supervision when children are around. Your eyes are the first line of safety when kids are involved. I hope you enjoy your pool this season. Stay alert. Stay safe. You never know what will end up in your pool area and get captured by the camera!


Until next time…

– The General