Find a flourescent: The color of a child’s swimsuit could save his or her life

June 2, 2021

When it comes to children’s swimwear, white is the worst color choice you could possibly make—even after Memorial Day has come and gone—NBC-TV’s Today show reports.

In a recent test study, ALIVE Solutions, a safety and first aid consultancy based in California, recently put swimsuit colors to the test to judge their visibility in both pools and open water.

The researchers found that, while parents might choose their kids’ swimwear based on style or comfort, the most important factor is color. In fact, it could make all the difference in preventing drowning.

In pools, the top photo in each section of the grid shown on this page is the fabric as seen 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,” ALIVE Solutions said in its post. “Although the darker colors show up on a light pool bottom they can often be dismissed for a pile of leaves, dirt, or a shadow so [we] tend to stay away from those colors when possible.”

In a second study, submerging the suits in 18 inches of open water, neon yellow, green, and orange swimsuits performed b

Above, white and light blue are the least visible swimsuit colors underwater. (Photo source: ALIVE Solutions).

est. All other colors disappeared quickly.

“Having a background as an aquatic operator and lifeguard I know that certain colors are easier to see than others and also how challenging water can be to see through,” Natalie Livingston, co-founder of ALIVE Solutions, told TODAY Parents in an interview. “I started to notice this personally with what my kids wore in different water environment—and wanted to test the colors in different conditions so we could increase visibility as much as possible.”

Breanna Smith Powderly, a former lead lifeguard at Hersheypark in Pennsylvanai, which sees more than 3 million visitors per year, agreed.

“Kids wearing bright, fluorescent colors are much easier to keep track of,” she told TODAY. “However, the lifeguard training that most water parks go through teaches the 10/20 rule—basically, 10 seconds to thoroughly scan your zone and 20 seconds to reach the person in distress — so even a child in [the] harder-to-see colors should be kept track of by a good lifeguard.”

Even veteran parents said they found the results helpful.

“It’s definitely going to affect how I shop for my kids’ swimsuits in the future,” Andrea Ament, a California mom of three, told TODAY. “I won’t be shopping for the cutest designs anymore, but rather the safest colors.”

Research contact: @TODAYshow

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