Medical alert systems are great and have so many wonderful convenience and life-saving features. A medical alert system is perfect for seniors, the disabled, or others who have health or mobility issues. However, if you suddenly find your medical alert system isn’t working because it was exposed to too much water, then it’s no good to you and could ultimately cost you your life. Here are our top picks for waterproof medical alert systems in 2019.
Bay Alarm Medical is an extremely popular waterproof medical alert system that is not only affordable, but comes equipped with a variety of helpful features. With Bay Alarm, you can expect high-quality equipment and a 30-day free trial period to determine if you like it. Additionally, Bay Alarm Medical even gives you free monitoring for your spouse’s unit, all you have to do is add a second help button to your plan and the monitoring is free. This is a great deal for couples. Here is more information along with some of the Bay Alarm Medical pros and cons.
Bay Alarm Medical has been providing its services for more than 70 years. They have comfortable, lightweight, waterproof medical alert buttons that can be worn as a pendant or wristband and their services start at a low $21.95 a month. You also get a risk-free 30-day trial period, free activation, no hidden fees, and free ground shipping. Additionally, Bay Alarm Medical uses the very reliable AT&T cellular network for its monitoring and GPS location tracking services. So you don’t have to worry about having the 24/7 cellular medical alert service coverage you need when you are away from your home (as long as you are subscribed to their one of their service plans).
Medical Guardian is a well-respected brand that boasts an A+ BBB rating. All of Medical Guardian’s help buttons are waterproof. That makes this option perfect for active wearers or those who want to wear their help button in the shower. However, you need to know if your device is waterproof or water-resistant, because a water-resistant help button shouldn’t be submerged in water for extended periods of time. They also offer in-home options and mobile options as well, which consist of a pendant, wristband, or a smartwatch. They also have optional wall-mounted emergency buttons, which are perfect for placing in the shower and around your home. Here is more information along with some of the Medical Guardian pros and cons.
Medical Guardian currently has more than 200,000 customers, and they offer five waterproof cellular device options. The in-home options have a signal range from 600-1,300 feet. The mobile options are cellular so there is not a signal range limit except for their Mobile Guardian option, which is a two-piece system that has a range of 350 feet between the wearable help button and the companion mobile alert device. The Medical Guardian devices have some of the longest battery life on the market—up to 120 hours. And, they are a TMA Five Diamond monitoring center, are FM approved, and UL listed.
Lively offers a wider variety of health and safety services than any other brand. They have their well-known 5Star Urgent Response button on their waterproof medical alert device, 24/7 access to registered nurses, a Lively link so the wearer can keep in touch with family and friends, and challenging brain games. Additionally, the Lively services incorporate their patented GPS technology, so they can get help to you when you need it most. With the Lively service, however, you do have to pay for the equipment upfront, then you have to pay for the associated monthly plan and activation fees. Here is more information along with some of the Lively pros and cons.
Lively is one of the most well-known medical alert services on the market. They offer a variety of extremely helpful services such as an activity tracker, check-in calls, daily health tips, wellness calls, a MedCoach, and product replacement (on some plans). The Lively mobile device and Lively Wearable are both 100% waterproof so you can wear either of them in the shower. Lively service plans are a bit different from other providers with their Basic monthly service fee starting at $19.99 and an activation fee of $35, along with two upgrade options.
If you like simple and easy to use, you are going to love the LifeStation equipment. LifeStation has some of the most user-friendly equipment on the market and only takes about five minutes to set everything up. Additionally, LifeStation boasts some of the fastest response times in the industry, averaging out at about 20 seconds. All the LifeStation buttons are waterproof so you never have to worry about getting them wet, and LifeStation doesn’t charge you anything for their equipment. As far as the price goes, you can get a LifeStation system for as low as $25.95 a month. Here is more information along with some of the LifeStation pros and cons.
LifeStation is another popular medical alert option that carries waterproof help buttons. They are also known for their highly-trained emergency response agents and tech support. And, they perform weekly testing of their equipment automatically so that’s one less thing you have to worry about. Additionally, LifeStation is extremely affordable and perfect for those who just want a basic system at a reasonable price without all the advanced features they might never use. LifeStation offers in-home equipment that uses your landline to communicate, as well as an option for in-home cellular service if you don’t have a landline. They also have a mobile with GPS option for those who are active and frequently away from their home.
There are medical alert devices that are waterproof and some that state they are water-resistant. There is a difference and you need to be able to decipher those differences, especially if you are frequently around water, in which case we recommend you get a 100% waterproof device.
A water-resistant medical alert device can’t be submerged underwater for any given amount of time. However, some of them can be worn in the shower. You will often see this feature called splash-proof or something similar. Since every brand is different, you will have to ask the manufacturer if their help buttons can be worn in the shower and/or bath, etc.
A waterproof medical alert device can be submerged in water; however, there are limits as to how much water and how deep it can be until its ability to function will be affected. A waterproof button is usually rated as IPX7, which simply means it is rated to be able to withstand being submerged in water up to three feet deep for approximately 30 minutes or less. Help buttons that are rated with lower IPX numbers are generally called splash-proof or water-resistant, but they are not technically waterproof; although, they can handle a limited amount of water before it affects their functionality.
Every medical alert device will have different capabilities; therefore, you have to inquire with each manufacturer about the abilities of their particular medical alert devices before making a purchase. And, even though a medical alert device says it’s waterproof, that doesn’t mean they can be worn during long extended baths, etc. And, even though a medical alert device says it’s waterproof, they should never be worn while swimming.
Another distinction is the mobile medical alert buttons that have speakers, a microphone, and/or GPS features built into them. These are usually not waterproof. However, there are a few on the market that do have those features and are still waterproof. You should check with the manufacturer of each one you are considering to learn about their specific devices and the capabilities of each. With that being said, even the ones that can be submerged in water, might not work as well while underwater as they do when they are dry. This is because the water will somewhat muffle the speaker making it harder to communicate clearly.
The National Institute on Aging says that 80% of the falls seniors experience take place at home in their bathroom while in the shower, bathtub, or on slippery floors. That’s why it’s so important to have a medical alert system that offers waterproof devices that are specifically designed for bathroom use. These can be in the form of wearable pendants, wristbands, or wall buttons. Waterproof medical alert devices that are designed for bathroom use are usually wireless and will send a signal to the base unit when the help button is pressed. That help request will then be sent to the monitoring center where they will assess your situation and send help if help is needed. Most (but not all) waterproof medical devices have a two-way talk feature that will allow the user to tell the monitoring center if they need assistance. Others only come as a button that sends an alert without the two-way communication feature.
Here are the most common features of waterproof medical alert systems.
The 24/7 emergency response is the feature that connects the help button to the monitoring center when the help button is pushed. As the name implies, a 24/7 emergency response is a system that is monitored by a monitoring center 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All medical alert systems should be accompanied by 24/7 monitoring; otherwise, you wouldn't be able to use them in the manner intended. Most (but not all) monitoring centers use professionally trained emergency response agents that are based solely in the U.S. Having 24/7 access to a 24/7 emergency response monitoring center is important for those who wear a waterproof medical emergency device because most falls occur while in the shower. Without immediate help, a fall can quickly turn into a tragedy.
Wireless medical alert systems use cellular connections to communicate. A wireless medical alert device uses the wireless connectivity of a cellular network, which works just like it does for your cell phone. With wireless connectivity, you will have more freedom to travel and move about versus being homebound because you have to remain near your medical alert base station. This is because a cellular signal uses nationwide wireless networks to monitor the signal from your help button. Wireless connectivity, aka cellular communication, will generally cost a bit more than a landline; however, the freedom you get from it due to having such broad coverage makes a cellular option worth every penny.
If you have a waterproof medical alert device, that means you are probably wearing your help button in the shower, around water, or other wet areas. Having a waterproof medical alert device without an automatic fall detection feature is like not having a help button at all. Often, when people fall, they hit their head and become unconscious or incapacitated to the point they can't press their help button to request help for themselves. The fall detection feature has a built-in mechanism that can detect a fall and contact the emergency response center for you. Of course, this feature is designed to pause for a few seconds to a minute or so to give you time to cancel the automatic call for help if you don't need it. But if you don't cancel the alert before that time has elapsed, a call will be automatically sent to the monitoring center. Most brands charge a little extra for the automatic fall detection feature; however, it's totally worth the peace of mind you have from knowing you will get the help you need even if you are unable to make the request yourself.
Almost all medical alert brands have a 2-way voice feature built-into their devices. However, there are a few that just have this feature on their base console only. The 2-way voice function is an extremely important feature to have. This feature is what allows you to talk with the monitoring center directly about the help you need or any concerns you might have. And, if you have a waterproof medical alert button and you slip and fall or have some other type of accident, having the two-way voice feature will save precious time. This is because you can directly communicate with the monitoring center about your injuries, so they can send the appropriate help you need without wasting any time.
Mobile monitoring uses a cellular signal to connect your help button to the monitoring center. This is different from a landline that uses the phone line in your home to connect to the monitoring center. A waterproof medical alert device will frequently have a mobile monitoring feature which is great for those who are active or will be wearing their devices in the shower. The mobile monitoring feature is usually offered in one of two ways. The first way works by activating when the help button is pushed. The device will then immediately dispatch 911 on your behalf. With the second way, when the help button is pushed, the monitoring center will respond to the emergency alert, assess your situation and respond accordingly.
Many medical alert brands offer a money-back guarantee. This option allows you to try a medical alert system before you fully commit to buying it or subscribing to the service. With a money-back guarantee, you pay for the equipment and/or service upfront, then if you aren't satisfied, you get your money back. However, some brands won't reimburse you for shipping costs, may have restocking fees, or other requirements associated with their money-back guarantee. Therefore, you need to read the fine print before assuming you won't lose anything under any given guarantee.
When you see a brand that advertises an extended battery life, that could mean one of two things. There are long-lasting batteries, which are important because your waterproof medical alert button uses a battery to power it. You don't want your device to lose its charge while you are away from somewhere where you can recharge it. Most medical alert device batteries will hold a charge anywhere from 24 hours to five days. Then, there are others that use a different kind of battery that will function for many, many years before needing a charge, similar to the way your cell phone battery holds a charge. An extended battery life with some brands can also mean your system comes with a battery backup that will make sure you can still use your medical alert system when the power goes out.
In-home medical alert systems have limitations when it comes to how far you can be from the base console before you will lose the signal that connects the help button to the console. The most common range is anywhere from 250 feet to 1,300 feet, depending on the type of equipment you are using. The one thing you should look for when shopping for a waterproof medical alert system is one that has enough range for your home and property. If you have a large home or like to spend time in the yard, you will need a device that has a strong enough signal to accommodate the range you need. Otherwise, consider opting for a device that uses a cellular signal which will provide you with an unlimited nationwide range.
Most (but not all) waterproof medical alert devices come with a GPS location tracking feature. The GPS-enabled devices provide communication and location tracking using the GPS function that is built into the device. And since these GPS-enabled devices use a cellular network to communicate, you will have access to immediate medical assistance when you need it regardless of where you go. This is because the GPS feature is able to detect your exact location when you press your waterproof medical alert help button at which time the monitoring center will send help.
As SafeHome.org’s medical alert system expert, Jenny Wisniewski researches, tests, and reviews the best solutions to help seniors age in place. Her experience includes providing caregiving for her own Mother and regularly writing in the elder care consulting space. Jenny pays attention to the nuances in each alert system she reviews so that seniors and family members can find the best fit for their needs. In addition to elder care, Jenny also enjoys writing about travel, education, and the environment. And in her free time, she loves spending time outdoors with her family and golden doodle. Learn more about Jenny here