Bringing children for swim lessons and always staying within arm’s length of toddlers in pools are two important ways to help keep kids safe around water. But did you know the color of your child’s swimsuit affects water safety too? In fact, bright colored swimsuits can save lives!
In the event your child goes underwater in a pool, the color of their swimsuit will make a significant difference in whether they are immediately seen by anyone—including a lifeguard.
When there’s a potential drowning situation, every second can make a difference between a successful water rescue or a tragic event.
Here are some important tips on water safety for toddlers.
A Study About Swimsuit Color
Alive Solutions, an aquatic safety group, conducted several tests to see which color bathing suits show up best underwater—in both pools with light and dark bottoms and on lakes.
The results showed that if a child is only 1-1/2 feet below the surface of the water, the colors of their swimsuit may disappear. An observer won’t be able to see there’s a child in a swimsuit under water. If the child is struggling and there’s even more movement in the water, visibility will be even worse.
Think about all the activity at a pool party, or in a community pool. The water is crowded and there are lots of waves and splashing. It might be impossible to see there’s a child underwater needing help. This is indeed a scary thought.
However, the study did show that certain colors will help you immediately find your child if they inadvertently go beneath the surface. And a lifeguard is more likely to see them as well.
Best Pool Swimsuit Colors for Water Safety
The study showed, when in a pool, your child should wear a swimsuit that is one bright color or with brightly contrasting colors. These colors will naturally draw the eye to them and are most visible in depths of water up to 18”.
The specific colors that show up best underwater in a pool with a dark bottom are:
- Day-glo/neon yellow
- Day-glo/neon orange
- Day-glo/neon green
White quickly becomes less visible the further away you get.
The colors that show up best underwater in a pool with a light bottom are:
- Day-glo/neon pink
- Day-glo/neon orange
Darker colors of blue, black, or green can show up in a pool with a light-colored lining, but are often mistaken for a shadow, or some accumulated dirt—so they too should be avoided.
Avoid white swimsuits. These swimsuits may appear bright in a pool with a light bottom, but here too, they seem to disappear underwater. An observer may think they are simply a reflection of an overhead cloud.
Also, avoid lighter colored patterned suits. They quickly lose contrast underwater and are extremely difficult to see.
Best Lake Swimsuit Colors for Water Safety
These tests, by Alive Solutions, tested swimsuit colors on top of a lake, on a partly sunny day. Other factors that can affect swimsuit visibility include the lake’s coloring, the lake’s bottom coloring, lighting, weather, water agitation, and more.
The colors that showed the best visibility when tested on lake water were:
- Neon yellow
- Neon green
- Neon orange
Neon pink did not do as well when tested on a lake.
And bathing suit color testing showed that visibility was almost zero at two feet of lake water for all colors.
For this reason, it’s important that all children wear Coast Guard approved life jackets when swimming in a lake or river. These also come in bright colors for added safety.
Water wings or inner tubes are never a safe substitution for a life jacket.
Best Swimsuit Color for Ocean Swimming
With ocean swimming, we can’t ignore the possibility of sharks. Sharks can enter ocean water as shallow as five feet. So, you need to consider different bathing suit colors for ocean swimming.
Sharks are attracted to highly contrasting colors. Fingernail and toenail polish that is highly contrasting to skin is a good example. Or dark tattoos against light skin. Sharks are also attracted to jewelry because it shines like fish scales.
For ocean swimming, shark experts advise strongly against wearing bright yellow swimsuits or those with highly contrasting colors like black and white.
Here are important tips for keeping kids safe at the beach.
Whatever the swimsuit colors…
All water safety experts agree that a bright swimsuit color won’t help at all if no one is watching your child. With water safety, nothing is more important than a parent’s or caregiver’s vigilance when supervising a child in or around water.
Join this Bathing Suit Drive
Knowing how to swim helps prevent drowning. But many less advantaged don’t even own a bathing suit.
To solve this problem, the New Jersey Swim Safety Alliance has partnered with New Jersey Recreation and Park Association and Dolfin Swimwear in a statewide Bathing Suit and Goggle Drive in 2023. There’s plenty you can do to help.
Read more about the benefits of swimming and Water Safety Month.
At Njswim, we offer swimming classes for all aged children and teens. We also offer Water Babies classes for children 3—30 months old. Join us at one of our six NJ swim locations in Brick, Lakeside-Roxbury, Florham Park, Manasquan, Sparta, and Turnersville.