Summer is officially here — and with temperatures spiking across the country, many Canadians are slipping into their swimsuits to beat the heat. Although many of us choose looks that suit our personal style, the colour of our swimsuits can play a significant factor in detecting and preventing potential drownings — especially for kids.
According to a 2021 study by ALIVE Solutions Inc., an organization which focuses on aquatic safety, certain colours lose visibility when submerged in different bodies of water, making it harder for parents and lifeguards to detect activity and potential drownings.
The company put different colours of swimsuits to the test to see how each appear when submerged in dark and light-bottomed pools. Each suit was photographed first when submerged in water and again to show how the colour appears underwater with surface agitation.
"Our bottom two colours are white and light blue (check out how they disappear) and our top choices would be neon pink and neon orange," ALIVE Solutions wrote in a Facebook post. "Although the darker colours show up on a light pool bottom they can often be dismissed for a pile of leaves, dirt, or a shadow so I tend to stay away from those colours when possible."
Results became even more troubling when the same test was conducted in lake water. ALIVE submerged the same colour swimsuits in 18 inches of lake water and found that even some of their high-visibility colours in pools, like neon pink, all but disappeared. Neon green, orange and yellow performed well, however blues, greens and black had the lowest visibility.
"Also remember, the bright and contrasting colours help visibility, but it doesn’t matter what colours your kids are wearing if you aren’t supervising effectively and actively watching," the company wrote on Facebook.
"Having a background as an aquatic operator and lifeguard I know that certain colours are easier to see than others and also how challenging water can be to see through," Natalie Livingston, co-founder of ALIVE Solutions, said in an interview with TODAY Parents last year. "I started to notice this personally with what my kids wore in different water environments and wanted to test the colours in different conditions so we could increase visibility as much as possible."
In Canada, approximately 57 per cent of all drowning incidents occur in swimming pools, with a majority of those cases involving children under four-years-old. Approximately 450 Canadians drowning annually while boating, swimming, in the bathtub or by unintentionally falling into water.
Parents should maintain constant, uninterrupted supervision of their children while they're in the water, wear a suitable personal floatation device and have four-sided enclosures on their pool areas to prevent drowning incidents.