How can I provide security for an in-ground swimming pool?
June 23, 2014 7:44 AM   Subscribe

I live in a condo community. We have an in-ground swimming pool. The swimming pool is located in a secluded part of the property which is quite large and mostly undeveloped woods and ponds. The pool is surrounded by a chain link fence just under 6 feet tall. We have motion activated cameras and floodlights in the pool area. The gate is locked every night. But none of this deters drunk teenagers from climbing the fence and swimming at 3 AM, and sometimes they vandalize the pool. Is there a way to install an alarm in an outdoor setting? I am not up on the latest technology in this regard. My main concern would be animals or birds setting off such an alarm, which would obviously not be good. What are the best options here?
posted by Seymour Zamboni to Home & Garden (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I can't help with the tech, but do you have a good solid lockable pool cover, in addition to the fence and the rest?
posted by easily confused at 7:50 AM on June 23, 2014 [4 favorites]

Seconding easily confused above, I believe lockable, alarmed pool covers are the traditional route here.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:51 AM on June 23, 2014 [4 favorites]

There are pool alarms like this that trigger when someone goes into the water. They're mostly to alert parents if kids might have fallen in, but it may be a possibility.
posted by xingcat at 7:51 AM on June 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

There are devices you can place in the pool that will sound an alarm if someone is in the water. They're primarily designed to keep children out of an unattended pool so that's where you might want to start searching.

Some devices mount on the side, but that's obviously not preferred since the vandals can easily kill the device before it sounds.

You might want to check into something like the Poolguard Safety Buoy. The "subsurface" detection is apparently more robust against rain, leaves, etc falling on the water and sounding false alarms.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:52 AM on June 23, 2014

Work with your local sub station for a police drive by nightly, add a higher fence. An aluminum pool fence (random link) has fewer "footholds" than a chain link fence, harder to climb.
posted by Buttons Bellbottom at 7:52 AM on June 23, 2014 [5 favorites]

You can put spikes on top of the fence to deter people, pressure-sensitive trip wires around the perimeter to deter teenaged-sized bodies, etc.

Or a higher fence. 6 feet is trivially easy for a teenager to climb over.
posted by dfriedman at 7:53 AM on June 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

I would imagine that anything that is supposedly harder to climb over (because it's taller and/or spikier) will just end up with injured teenagers or teenagers who are better at climbing rather than teenagers who decide against climbing (drunk teenagers often being poor decision makers/more daring/more clumsy). Making it harder to get in will just make them try harder - and then if they get in they can still swim. An alarm would take away what they want (swimming) - by making an unpleasant noise and/or alerting someone to come and kick them out/call the police.
A solid cover with solid locks on might work as it makes it obvious there's no point in trying to get in - but they may reckon they can bust the lock open so alarms might still be necessary
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:11 AM on June 23, 2014

Some sort of paint of non-setting goop on the fence so the little teenage clothes get all crappy?
posted by biffa at 8:22 AM on June 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Low-tech option - barbed wire on top of the fence, angled outward so they can't climb and swing/jump over the barbed portion.
Random photo.
posted by trivia genius at 8:29 AM on June 23, 2014

I'd second the "avoid more dangerous climbs". Had a friend who did a number of her hand climbing over the barbed wire (as a non-drunk teenager). Injury potential isn't a deterrent.

I would second working with local police, and probably your condo insurance agent (since they have a heavily vested interest in preventing things .. ) for solutions/ideas as well.
posted by k5.user at 8:31 AM on June 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Some sort of paint of non-setting goop on the fence so the little teenage clothes get all crappy?

You could just spread a nice bead of bearing grease along the top rail of the fence. Not so much to make it slick and dangerous, but for this very purpose. I suppose good old fashioned tar would do the trick as well.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:32 AM on June 23, 2014

Seconding k5.user on working with your condo insurance agent and the condo board.

A new, appropriate, and vertically challenging "proper pool" fence may lower your insurance rates in the long run, making the dent in condo savings or the bite of an assessment to pay for it much more palatable.
posted by Buttons Bellbottom at 8:43 AM on June 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

As a teenager, I had a pool. But that didn't stop me from colluding with my friends to get together in the wee hours to skinny dip in someone else's pool, uninvited. It's what we did and the harder they made it to sneak in, the sweeter the reward. Barbed wired, dogs and armed guards dispatched were all part of the fun.

To this, I would make sure you're in compliance with your insurance and set up a motion activated spotlight/camera to later shame or prosecute the offenders. Anything that could physically injure an uninvited guest will result in an unpleasant courtroom experience for the condo board and/or persons responsible for implementing it. Not to mention that it detracts from the ascetics of the pool area.
posted by jsavimbi at 8:44 AM on June 23, 2014 [3 favorites]

What are the best options here?

If it was just random drunk people, I'd say hire a local highschool student on summer vacation to stay up all night (playing video games or watching TV, etc) and call the police as needed. The problem should go away pretty quickly, or at least the police would have real numbers on how big of an issue it is.

In this case I'll leave the social implications of hiring someone to narc on fellow teens to the OP.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 8:45 AM on June 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

In some parts of Africa they put capsaicim on game fences to deter large animals from plowing through them. I don't know whether it would be practical to deploy that as a deterrent on your existing fence.
posted by alms at 8:47 AM on June 23, 2014

This sounds like it's a pool belonging to the entire condo community, and that your condo community may be large enough that any action has to come from the condo board itself. Keep in mind that there may also be local laws (IANAL) that would hold your community responsible should said miscreants be injured on your property, even if they were trespassing - your condo board and insurance agents should have better knowledge of this than I do.

Are there posted hours that limit even legitimate use of the pool (say, 6 am-11 pm or whatever), or is the pool supposed to be accessible 24/7 to all condo residents? If the former, the lockable cover and alarm are the sensible way to go. If the latter, on-site in-person condo security guards.
posted by Pandora Kouti at 8:49 AM on June 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

If your cameras aren't telling you anything about who these kids are, you need a better camera setup (otherwise why have them?). If they are, then your community needs to at least ascertain if they are kids who live there, or friends of kids who live there. You could take pictures around to the residents and see if they can ID the kids.

Yes, teenagers are gonna teenager, but they're not like wildlife; you can prosecute them for continued trespassing. The other options for locking up/security are good too, but right now these kids have decided that no one is really paying attention, so why not keep doing it?
posted by emjaybee at 9:44 AM on June 23, 2014 [3 favorites]

How much is a security guard? Depending on where you are, a guard doing rounds that include the pool might be cheaper than a fence/alarm update. The other residents might like to have a guard walking around at night anyway.
posted by blnkfrnk at 10:21 AM on June 23, 2014

Yeah, you're not allowed to set up a robotic injury machine. Hire a security guard.
posted by rhizome at 11:11 AM on June 23, 2014

I would think in this day and age, there must be some sort of pool alarm that could be set to dial a security guards cell phone instead of setting off an audible alarm. Then they could sneak up quietly while the idiots were splashing/trashing the pool, and they'd still be inside the fence when he arrived with his video camera to capture faces and any possible license plates.
posted by blueberry at 8:28 PM on June 23, 2014

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