Look at These Safety Color Charts Before You Buy Your Kids' Next Swimsuit

Look at These Safety Color Charts Before You Buy Your Kids' Next Swimsuit
Graphic: Used with permission from ALIVE Solutions, Inc.

When we’re picking out our kids’ swimsuits for the season, we often think mostly about style, age-appropriateness, and comfort. We want something they like, something that isn’t too mature, and something that fits well. But we may not be giving enough weight to another factor that can actually help keep them safer in the water—the suit’s color.

ALIVE Solutions, a company that specializes in aquatic safety, training, and risk assessment, tested more than a dozen swimsuits in varying colors first in a pool and then in a lake. The degree to which a swimsuit becomes difficult, if not impossible, to spot varied widely based on its color. Let’s first look at the swimsuits in a pool, which ALIVE Solutions writes on its blog had a light-colored bottom:

Graphic: Used with permission from ALIVE Solutions, Inc.

The top photo in each section is the fabric underwater, and the bottom photo is the fabric with surface agitation.

Our bottom two colors are white and light blue (check out how they disappear) and our top choices would be neon pink and neon orange.

The writer of the blog also notes that although the darker colors tend to show up against the light color of the bottom of the pool, they steer clear of them because they can be mistaken for a pile of leaves, dirt, or a shadow.

You might think you’d get the same results in a lake, but you’d only be partially correct:

Graphic: Used with permission from ALIVE Solutions, Inc.

We placed each color on the surface (first row images), second row images were from shore level perspective, and third row are from a slightly elevated perspective - simulating standing on a boat/dock view.

We conducted the testing in 18” of water—visibility was pretty much zero at 2ft for all colors in this environment. The lake bottom was a brownish / grey color, and it was partly sunny outside.

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Here the top colors were neon yellow, neon green, and bright orange—but not neon pink, which performed well in the pool test. Even so, the brighter neon colors do seem to do better overall, and these comparisons are a stark reminder that looking into water is much different than looking through air. Water distorts and reflects, and depending on the body of water or how deep a person goes under, you can lose visibility quicker than you might think.

Trained lifeguards will obviously be looking out for much more than swimsuits in varying colors and shades, but particularly for the untrained eye, a brighter colored suit may help you more quickly spot a child who has fallen into the water or notice they’ve been under longer than they should be.

Whatever color your child’s swimsuit happens to be, you should make a mental note of how it looks whenever they begin playing in any type of water, whether a pool, ocean, or lake. That way, if you find yourself searching for them later, you’ll have a clearer idea of what exactly you’re looking for.

And of course, the color of a child’s swimsuit alone is not even close to being enough to ensure their safety in the water. You can read much more about that in our guide for keeping kids safe while swimming.


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