This pool alarm stands out because it looks like a little red traffic cone. Built to float on the surface of the water, the Safety Buoy sounds when it detects disruptions on the surface. This is perfect for every kind of pool out there, whether it’s in-ground or free-standing. In our tests, it earned a B- for object detection because, while it went off when a person got in the pool as well as when we tossed a wet sweatshirt in, it didn’t notice when we threw golf balls in until they were mere inches away from the alarm itself.
Installing the battery and setting up the Safety Buoy requires a light hand. You remove the top of the buoy via one plastic screw and nut at each corner. Inside, you position one 9-volt battery, which should last about one year before you have to do it all over again. Once the battery is installed, the device is touchy and will go off without notice if you turn it too abruptly. To mitigate this, it comes with a small wire stand you can sit the buoy on, but you should know it’s still pretty touchy. You know it’s working when the green light atop the buoy flashes every 10 seconds. The whole thing beeps every 10 seconds when it needs a new battery.
The Safety Buoy puts out 97.9 decibels of noise, making it the quietest alarm we tested. Despite it being the quietest, 97 decibels is comparable to standing very close to a lawn mower, so if you can hear your lawn being mowed from inside the house, you’ll definitely hear this alarm. It also comes with a remote receiver you can use up to 200 feet away from the pool, the most common range of the pool alarms we tested. If you’re looking for more range, try the Brickhouse Pool Alarm.
When the Safety Buoy alarm goes off, you use the key that comes with it to turn it off. It might take a few attempts to get the hang of it, but you simply hold the “key” next to the small target sticker on the side of the buoy, and within three seconds, the alarm mutes. The alarm sticker may wear off with age or water exposure, so you might want to mark it with waterproof tape. The instructions say you can put this alarm in sleep mode if it sounds while it’s out of the water by holding the key to the device for three to four seconds as you keep it totally still with the accompanying stand. However, it turns right back on when you move it from the stand, so we don’t see how it’s useful. One feature we did find useful, though, is you can use the key to set up silent installation and removal so the alarm doesn’t sound every time you put it in and take it out of the water.
This alarm works in pools up to 18 x 36 feet, which is mid-range compared to other alarms we tested. If you’re worried about size, the Pool Patrol PA-30 works in larger pools. The Safety Buoy also comes with a string attached to the alarm and a small clip you can stick to the edge of your pool. That way, you can tie up your alarm like a boat so it’s within easy reach if the alarm sounds. We also recommend you keep the key somewhere you won’t lose it – otherwise, you’ll have to take the whole device apart and remove the battery to make the alarm stop sounding.